As new virus cases increase more than 3, 000 every day and more patients are brought to the hospitals for breakthrough infections, South Korea said that it will cut down the wait for COVID-19 booster shots.
In a government meeting on Wednesday, Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said that the country will now wait for four months instead of six for people aged more than 60 years old and those who stay at long-term care centers to get the booster. South Koreans who are aged 50 and above will qualify for additional doses five months after they receive their primary vaccine series, The Korea Herald reported.
The booster vaccination will cover over 13 million people before this year ends following the reduction of the waiting time, as decided on Wednesday.
The increase in hospitalizations and deaths are being blamed by health authorities on the easing of the restrictions as South Korea moves to regain normalcy.
A record-breaking 522 people with critical COVID-19 and 62 intensive care beds were recorded by the country for the first time in the past couple of weeks on Tuesday afternoon. The country also recorded the second-highest number of cases for a day at 3, 184 on Tuesday.
There are only around 8 percent of the population in their 60s and above that got the vaccine, the official statistics show. Between Oct. 3 and Nov. 6, these people contribute more to the 452 deaths recorded.
People in their 80s or over are most commonly recorded to suffer from breakthrough infections.
Beginning this week, the booster vaccination rollout will be extended to people aged over 50. The rollout started a month ago only with front-line personnel and older adults.
The country has so far given booster shots to 432, 000 people aged 60 and over since the booster vaccination rollout began.