President Moon Jae-in reassured the public on Monday that the nation's vaccine scheme is on schedule, and in fact, aims to raise the target of having 12 million people inoculated by the end of June, to 13 million.
"I have been briefed that the government can raise its inoculation target from 12 million people to 13 million in the first half of the year, based on the supply schedule, if we are able to use the vaccines effectively. I also ask for all efforts to achieve herd immunity earlier than the goal of November."
A later announcement confirmed updates to the inoculation list with people aged 60 to 64 set to be inoculated in the first half of the year as well.
The initial plan was to inoculate only people aged between 65 and 74 by the end of June.
Now, with the expansion, a total of 8.9 million people in this age group will get the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Specifically, seniors aged 65 to 74 will start receiving their shots on the 27th of this month and people aged 60 to 64, on the 7th of next month.
Also in the month of June, essential workers, military personnel, and some teachers are projected to receive their first dose.
"This plan takes into account the higher rate of fatalities and critical cases of the disease among people 60 and older."
As of now with vaccine supply levels low, authorities plan on administering second doses until mid-May and then expanding to the projected group for the first shots.
Supplies for those people, according to the announcement, have been secured.
From May 14th to the first week of June, nearly 9 million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines are due to arrive in South Korea, imported both directly from the makers and the COVAX facility.
As for Pfizer, 5 million doses will arrive in weekly batches until June.
By then, a total of 14 million doses will have arrived in South Korea.
As of Tuesday midnight, a total of 3.4 million people in the country have received at least their first dose, which represents 6.8 percent of the whole population.
Slightly more than half of them received AstraZeneca shots while the remainder were given Pfizer.
Kim Do-yeon, Arirang News.