• S. Korea Starts COVID-19 Vaccination Program
(Photo: Yonhap News)
(Photo: Yonhap News)
More than 5,000 health care workers and patients under the age of 65 at some 5,800 long-term care facilities in South Korea have begun to receive the first doses of coronavirus vaccines.

The country's long-awaited mass vaccination program started Friday as COVID-19 cases neared 90,000.

Around 60 medical personnel from nursing facilities were among the first group to get the first shots of British-Swedish pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca's vaccine at a public health center in Seoul's Dobong District.

The government said the first batch of AstraZeneca bottles it received, produced at a local plant by SK Bioscience, are enough to provide jabs to 785,000 people.

Starting Saturday, a group of some 55,000 health care workers at hospitals for COVID patients will begin receiving their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine from the global COVAX Facility.

Authorities said the Pfizer shots will initially be administered at the state-run National Medical Center in central Seoul, then at four other state-run vaccination clinics.

Health authorities plan to complete inoculations with the first batch of vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer in March.

South Korea aims to get 70 percent of its population inoculated by September, with herd immunity achieved by November.

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