South Korea has authorized AstraZeneca’s coronavirus vaccine for citizens aged 65 and over, the decision is based on UK research, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said.
The vaccine was previously approved for South Korean citizens aged between 18 and 65. A decision on senior citizens vaccination was due to be made in the beginning of April, when AstraZeneca was expected to provide additional data on the clinical trials involving senior people. However, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun asked the health authorities to study the possibility to allow vaccination of those aged 65+ earlier, citing the experience of other nations.
“The expert panel on vaccination recommended using AstraZeneca vaccine in people aged 65 and over, based on results of the research conducted in the United Kingdom and Scotland, as it was proven effective in preventing hospitalizations and severe symptoms,” KDCA said in a statement.
In line with KDCA recommendations, South Korea should inoculate around 376,000 senior patients and staffers in nursing homes across the country by the end of March.
South Korea launched its phased vaccination campaign in late February. Healthcare staff and patients in nursing homes receive the AstraZaneca vaccine, while doctors specializing in coronavirus patients get the Pfizer vaccine. Immunization of support healthcare staffers and residents aged 65+ will start in the second quarter of the year, while most of the other citizens will be inoculated in the third quarter.
According to KDCA, health authorities plan to allow inoculation for those whose work envisions regular foreign travel but does not imply mandatory quarantine starting the second quarter of the year. These include flight attendants.