• Opposition To Vaccine Passports For Teens Grows
Students wear masks to protect against COVID-19 as they sit in a study cafe in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.
(Photo: Yonhap)

A growing number of South Korean parents and teenagers are opposed to the impending enforcement of vaccine passports on adolescents.

As the country faces a COVID-19 resurgence and an increase in cases among young students, the government has decided to extend vaccine pass requirements to students aged 12 to 18, starting in February.

This means they will be required to show a certificate of vaccination against COVID-19 or a negative test result in order to enter restaurants, coffee shops, internet cafes, cram schools and even public study rooms.

Some critics are describing the move as coercion and discrimination against the unvaccinated.

Internet communities among parents of students have also been flooded with complaints arguing that the decision could hinder students' learning activities.

An online petition against the latest vaccine pass measure was filed on the Cheong Wa Dae website on Friday, and has since been endorsed by around 74,000 people.

A similar online petition filed by a high school student in late November argues that the vaccine pass system runs counter to people's basic rights to reject getting vaccinated.

More than 193,000 people have backed that petition.

Around 30 percent of teens aged 12 to 17 have been fully vaccinated, compared with the country's overall rate of slightly over 80 percent.

Medical experts stress the vaccine pass has the effect of providing protection for those not inoculated, rather than enforcing vaccination.

Son Young-rae, a senior health ministry official, said given the high value of the measure to protect adolescents against COVID-19, giving protection outsizes learning rights.

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