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Vaccinations for those aged 16~17, pregnant women start Mon. Updated: 2021-10-18 05:48:37 KST

We start with the latest on the coronavirus situation in South Korea.
A new social distancing scheme begins today and South Korea will start the process of vaccinating older teenagers and pregnant women against COVID-19.

For more on this and other COVID-19-related updates, joining us live in the studio is our reporter, Kim Yeon-seung, good morning

Good morning

As Mark just mentioned, South Korea is starting a new social distancing scheme. Tell us more about what this entails

Mok-yeon, well the good news is that more people can gather under these new rules, and they don't have to worry whether it's before or after 6 PM anymore.
For the remaining two weeks of October, up to eight people, including four who are fully vaccinated, can gather in the capital region, where it's still subject to level four measures, the highest of the social distancing scheme.
Restaurants and cafes can stay open until 10 PM.
But in other regions, level three will be applied.
That means that.. up to 10 people can gather, as long as at least six of the people are fully vaccinated.
In non-capital regions, operating hours for restaurants and cafes are extended to 12 AM.
Hopefully these new social distancing measures that start today, are the last of them,.. as the nation has been promised the start of the "With Corona" stage in November, which signifies a lifestyle where we live alongside the coronavirus.

Well, these changes come on the ack of the successful vaccination campaign.
In terms of vaccinations, where does South Korea stand right now?

Well as of Monday morning,.. almost 65 -percent of the population have been fully vaccinated.
Health authorities are now working their way down the age group, and will start administering vaccinations to those aged 16 or 17 from Monday.
More than 55-percent of those in that age group.. have reserved their jabs.
Those younger who are between the ages 12 to 15 can also start reserving their Pfizer shots today,.. which they will get in November.
Vaccinations for pregnant women will also start today.
More than 25-hundred women have signed up for their shots.
You know, there has been a lot of misinformation floating around on social media, many casting doubts over the safety of COVID-19 vaccinations for pregnant women.
But contrary to rumors, studies have shown that the vaccines do not affect male or female fertility and do not increase the risk of miscarriages.

Right, and what about booster shots? How are they coming along?

So far, 380-thousand people in high risk groups have already signed up for their booster shots.
But the ones who also need to be considered as a priority group for the boosters are those who got Johnson and Johnson shots earlier this year.
A new study found waning vaccine immunity for Johnson and Johnson vaccines.
The study tracked more than 600-thousand veterans who got the Johnson and Johnson shot and health experts saw that the protection rate of those vaccines had fallen drastically within five months, from 88 to 3 percent.
South Korea started administering Johnson and Johnson shots back in June,.. so the government said that it's currently coming up with a plan to administer booster jabs to those that got the jabs as early as December.

And how has the uptick in vaccinations been reflected in the daily caseloads, have we been seeing an gradual downturn

Well,.. for the last three weeks, South Korea has been seeing an overall downward trend in infections.
And some experts are attributing this downward slope to the high vaccination rates.
The average number of weekly infections is down to around 15-hundred, which is a notable step down from what we saw at the end of September, which was an average of more than 2-thousand cases.
And last night as well, health authorities saw numbers that could confirm the declining trend.
Until 9PM last night, health authorities logged in 1,38 new daily infections.
That's 332 infections down from the night before and 236 fewer than the same time last week.

Well hopefully the vaccination tally keeps going up, while new infections continue to go down.
Thanks, Yeon-seung, and we'll speak to you again tomorrow.
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