Vaccines to protect people from COVID-19 are being rolled out across South Korea as part of a mass vaccination program that launched in late February. The aim is to immunize at least 70 percent of the country's 52 million population by September in the hopes of achieving herd immunity in November and returning to "normal" life.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency says all adults can get the vaccine, including foreign nationals, who will get the shots according to the same schedule as Korean citizens.
Around 2 million foreigners currently call South Korea home. But details about eligibility and the immunization process in languages aside from Korean have been scant, leaving some foreigners hanging or having to decipher the information out there on their own.
Here is what foreigners need to know.
All foreign nationals with long term or permanent residence visas that allow them to stay in South Korea for over 90 days are covered under the national vaccination program.
People on short stay tourist visas cannot be vaccinated.
WHAT INFORMATION DO I NEED TO PROVIDE TO GET A COVID-19 VACCINE?
Foreigners must have a foreigner registration number, found on a residence or Korean national identification card (ARC).
Those who are exempt from foreigner registration or do not have an ID number yet can receive a temporary number from a public health center, where they must present their passport.
WHAT IS THE VACCINATION PROCESS?
The head of the KDCA's vaccination implementation team, Hwang Ho-pyeong, says foreign residents can register to get vaccinated when they become eligible based on the government's inoculation schedule, which divides people into groups in order of priority and age.
To register, visit a local (Eup/Myeon/Dong) community center in person to fill out and submit a consent form. Individuals who apply will receive a phone call or text message about their appointment date, time, and place.
More detailed information will be provided in English and other languages when vaccinations are set to start for specific groups.
(Photo: Yonahap News)
WHEN WILL IT BE MY TURN?
The rollout began with high-risk groups and medical personnel on February 26. In early April, it opened to other frontline workers, the military, primary school teachers and elderly members of the general public aged 75 and older.
Towards the end of the second quarter of the year, vaccinations are likely to expand to adults 60 and up, followed by those between the ages of 50 and 60. All other healthy adults aged 18 and older could begin getting their shots sometime in the third quarter, at the earliest.
The government has not authorized shots to be administered to children.
WHAT IS THE COST OF GETTING VACCINATED?
Nothing. COVID-19 vaccines are being administered free of charge.
CAN I CHOOSE WHICH VACCINE I GET?
Authorities have made clear no one can choose which vaccine they receive. The government is currently using the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines, both of which require two doses given weeks apart.
South Korea also signed contracts to get the single-dose shot made by Johnson & Johnson as well as the Moderna and Novavax vaccines.
WHAT ELSE DO I NEED TO KNOW?
Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is not mandatory. But medical experts say its effective in preventing death and hospitalizations, and emphasize that people should get the first vaccine offered to them.
In case you choose not to get vaccinated when it's your turn, you will be pushed to the end of the line, meaning shots will be available to you in the last few months of the year or later.
The KDCA's website (www.kdca.go.kr) provides COVID-related data on its English homepage, however, it lacks information on the vaccination drive.
The agency's 1339 hotline offers support and consultations in over a dozen languages, including Thai, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Arabic.
Multiple cities and provincial governments also provide coronavirus and vaccination updates in English and other languages through their respective websites.
Please send comments to email@example.com / copyright © tbs. Unauthorized redistribution prohibited.