COVID-19 Vaccinations in Korea
COVID-19 Vaccinations in Korea
  • 정선우 기자
  • 승인 2021.06.14 12:53
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KT Reporter

On December 8, 2020, the Korean government announced that it had secured 44 million vaccines against COVID-19 through negotiations with global vaccine companies and COVAX, an international project led by the World Health Organization (WHO). Because of this action, the National Medical Center conducted a research on the Pfizer vaccineon February 9, 2021. Due to limited supply of vaccines, about 36 million people were selected as subjects for preferential inoculation. As a result, Korea started vaccinating on February 26. As of May 21, the total number of vaccinations was 3,787,570 people. Among them, 2,061,032 were vaccinated with AstraZeneca and 1,726,538 were vaccinated with Pfizer. From May 19-22, President Moon Jae-in visited the United States for a summit meeting with the U.S President Joe Biden. At the summit, they discussed key issues between the two countries, including how to deal with COVID-19. As a result, the Korea-U.S. Global Vaccine Partnership was established, which allowed Samsung Biologics and Moderna to cosign a contract for the production of COVID-19 vaccines. In response, the Ministry of Health and Welfare announced, "The combination of excellent technologies from the U.S. and Korea will create a long-term mass production of vaccines." In addition, the U.S. government announced a plan to provide 550,000 South Korean soldiers with free COVID-19 vaccines, in consideration of the South Korea-U.S. alliance and the health of U.S. troops in South Korea. As vaccinations continue to happen, the South Korean government will ease quarantine measures for those vaccinated starting from June and will implement vaccine certificates during the process. According to the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), COVID-19 vaccinations can be checked through a mobile application, COOV, where the vaccination certificate can be found. Vaccine certificates are similar to QR codes on Naver and Kakao that people have to use when entering different facilities, and are likely to act as new IDs. In addition, the Korean government is focusing on the use of residual vaccines. Residual vaccines occur when people miss their vaccination reservation or are not able to be vaccinated due to poor health conditions. The purpose of residual vaccinations is to increase vaccination rates by vaccinating people who want to be done quickly. People can open Naver app or any map app and search "residual vaccine" in the search box; the map platform will pop up showing what centers have leftover vaccines. Then people can check and reserve the remaining vaccines and go to the centers when it is their time to be vaccinated. However, despite the government's efforts to increase the vaccination rate, concerns about the side effects of the vaccines have continued to increase because of the lack of research done on the vaccines. The current common side effects of vaccines include headaches, fever, muscle aches, and vomiting. Currently, in Korea, about 1.5% of the cases have been reported for suspected abnormal reactions after vaccination. Among them, 99% were common cases after vaccination including fever and muscle pain. In this case, we interviewed KU students about their opinions on vaccinations.

AGREE By Oh Yu-ra Sophomore from Department of Public Administration

As the vaccination rate of COVID-19 increases, wrong information about the COVID-19 vaccine is spreadingrapidly. Many people express their reluctance to be vaccinated with concerns about the dangers of the vaccine. I understand what they are concerned about; however, I think it is important to findcorrect information even in this chaotic situation. According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), 0.44% of people who were vaccinated with the COVID-19 vaccine in Korea responded they had a fever, muscle pain, headache, and hives. The World Health Organization (WHO) has reviewed the COVID-19 vaccination data reportsin several countries, stating that these responses could be expected due to immune responses after vaccination. There were cases of severe abnormalities and suspected deaths, which have made headlines. Though, there are no proven results that the reason for severe side effects was from the COVID-19 vaccination. Besides, an Internet media reported the statistics of the U.S. government that 1,000 people died from side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, but that claim was proved false. This is because of the vaccine’s side effect reporting system of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); which was found to report inaccurate findings without investigation and confirmation. Despite reports proving that most of the information is false, people's anxiety about the side effects of the vaccine cannot easily subside. The Korean Government is reviewing the vaccine and looking for various ways to restore people's trust in it. Recently, the government has announced vaccination incentives to increase the rate of COVID-19 vaccinations. Vaccination incentives include those who have completed the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine will not have to wear a mask during outdoor activities starting in July, and the government also plans to push for a "vaccine passport" that allows those who have completed the vaccination to travel abroad freely. Due to unclear information about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine, I think it is better to consider true information rather than refusing the vaccination.

DISAGREE By Jeon Ga-yeon Sophomore from Department of Public Administration

I think it is dangerous to be vaccinated with a COVID-19 vaccine. This is because nearly all countries in Europe have declared an end to vaccinations as the number of side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine increases. However, the Korean Government is urging many people to get vaccinated quickly and achieve collective immunity against COVID-19. As a result, people are increasingly voicing their intention to refuse vaccination. They take the issue with the fact that media only emphasizes asking people to get a vaccine, but rarely highlights the side effects of vaccinations. I heard that developing a vaccinetakes more than five years; however, the COVID-19 vaccine was developed in a short period of time, so I have anxiety about its components and side effects. In Korea, serious damage such as shock, convulsions, and death after vaccination is occurring, but the government has not made a clear solution. What people want is accurate information about the vaccine's preventive effects and stability. Instead, to encourage vaccinations, the government is providing incentives to those who completed the first round of the COVID-19 vaccine;such as not having to wear masks outdoors and easing the limit on the number of people in the group. However, the top priority for the government is providing accurate information for people who have distrust in vaccinations. News about the side effects of the COVID-19 vaccine continues to be heard in Korea and abroad. In conclusion, individuals need to accurately determine whether reports of the COVID-19 vaccine are true or not.

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