The Korean government is mulling over a plan to include those in their 50s to get the fourth COVID-19 vaccination along with the current target of those aged 60 or over. Health experts, however, warn that convincing the elderly target groups who are refusing their fourth vaccination to get vaccinated is a more urgent and serious issue than including people in their 50s.
According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), only 31.8 percent of those aged 60 or higher completed their fourth vaccination as of Monday: that leaves some 9.37 million elderly out of a total of 13.74 million unvaccinated for their fourth round.
In Korea, the fourth round of COVID-19 vaccination began on April 14, 2022. The first key targets are the elderly and those with underlying diseases, both of who may be in critical danger if infected. Three months have passed and only three out of 10 elderly citizens have been vaccinated. Only 20 percent are vaccinated for the fourth time among those in their 60s (21.1 percent to be exact as of Thursday).
It is imperative that the elderly get vaccinated because it has been a while since they got their last COVID-19 vaccination. Most of those aged 60 or over got their third vaccination in November or December 2021. COVID-19 vaccines are known to lose their effects sharply after six months on preventing the infection itself or the development into severe cases. Professor Emeritus Baek Sun-young of the Catholic University of Korea said that the vaccination rate is less than 50 percent even for those aged 80 or over who are most vulnerable, adding that it is time to convince those in the most vulnerable groups as much as possible and get them vaccinated for the fourth time.
On Monday, the KDCA discussed how to expand the fourth vaccination coverage during its vaccination experts committee meeting. The meeting reportedly has concluded to review the possibility of expanding the target to "those aged 50 or over." The National Advisory Committee on Infectious Disease Crisis Response discussed on the same day whether to maintain the quarantine duration to the current seven days for the mean time. The Korean government is expected to announce the plan on Wednesday on responding to COVID-19 resurge.