People wait to check for any abnormal symptoms after getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at an inoculation center in Seoul, Oct. 21. Yonhap
South Korea achieved its goal of fully inoculating over 70 percent of the country’s population Saturday, earlier than scheduled amid its accelerating vaccination drive.
A total of 35.94 million people had received both their shots of COVID-19 vaccines as of 2 p.m., accounting for 70 percent of the country’s 51.3 million population, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA).
South Korea began its nationwide vaccination campaign in late February.
The achievement comes as the country is set to gradually phase out coronavirus restrictions starting next month, joining a list of countries embracing new plans for returning to normal life with the coronavirus.
The government’s plan, dubbed “Living with COVID-19,” is set to take effect in early November, meaning COVID-19 will be treated as an infectious respiratory disease such as seasonal influenza, with eased social distancing being implemented.
The authorities expect vaccinations will further pick up steam going forward, to get 85 percent of all South Koreans and foreigners living in South Korea fully inoculated by early next year, which is expected to create the so-called herd immunity.
Herd immunity occurs when a large portion of the population becomes immune to a certain, making its spread from person to person unlikely.
Currently, restrictions on private gatherings have been lifted to allow up to eight people to meet in the greater Seoul area, provided that four of them are fully vaccinated. A maximum of 10 people, including six who are fully vaccinated, are allowed to gather in other regions.
The eased rules will apply until the end of this month in what the authorities said will be the last adjustment of social distancing.
Talk of booster shots is gaining traction, with the authorities planning to start booster shots for people over 60 and those who are less immune next month. Booster shots will also be available to those who were vaccinated overseas.
On Saturday, South Korea reported 1,508 new COVID-19 cases, the KDCA said, for a total caseload of 350,476. (Yonhap)Internet Explorer Channel Network