(Photo: Yonhap News)
South Korea, which has been lauded as a model for its relative success in containing the spread of COVID-19, launched on Friday its vaccination program.
Health authorities are using the AstraZeneca vaccine first to inoculate more than 5,000 health care workers and people at long-term care facilities under the age of 65.
Our Ron Chang reports.
The long-awaited first shots of vaccines to protect against the novel coronavirus came over 400 days after South Korea confirmed its first case on January 20 of last year.
Officials have been actively encouraging full participation in the government's vaccination drive as the key to returning to normal life, amid lingering fears over safety and side effects.
Kim Hyun-kyung, a health care worker at a nursing home in Seoul, was among those who received the first shots today, and though she was nervous at first, everything went smoothly.
"I was most worried about the side effects of the vaccine. But after getting the shot, I experienced less pain and less side effects than what I would feel if I were getting an influenza shot."
The government's goal is to immunize over 36 million people, or 70 percent of the population, by September in order to attain herd immunity before the end of the year.
Starting tomorrow, 58,500 frontline medical workers who treat COVID-19 patients will get the vaccine developed by Pfizer.
Authorities said they expect to finish administering these first batches of vaccines in March, before rolling out the next round to other eligible populations.
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