South Korea postpones the immunization of people over 65 years old with the coronavirus vaccine developed by the UK-Swedish AstraZeneca company until the latter provides additional data on the vaccine’s effect on senior citizens and local experts verify its efficacy for the group, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KCDC) said on Monday.
The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on February 10 authorized the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine for all citizens over 18, while advising caution when giving it those aged 65 and older. The country’s authorities said that data on the vaccine’s effects on senior citizens was insufficient. The vaccine was approved on condition that the company would provide additional clinical trial data by the end of April.
“It was decided to immunize a group of people over 65 years old with AstraZeneca’s vaccine after checking additional data on the vaccine’s effect on them and its review by the vaccination expert council,” KCDC head Jeong Eun-kyeong told reporters.
The official also said that changes in the vaccination plan only applied to the order of priority of vaccinees within the first quarter of 2021, adding it will not affect the South Korean government’s plans to achieve herd immunity by November.
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The AstraZeneca vaccine will be distributed to hospitals across the country starting February 24, with frontline medical workers and employees of nursing homes being prioritized to receive the shots.
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