South Korea rolls out 4th Covid vaccine shots to high-risk groups

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South Korea on Monday started to roll out fourth shots of Covid vaccines for people at high risk, even as the country faces a surge in infections due to the highly contagious Omicron variant.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency announced a fourth dose for “the high-risk group” who face less protection after receiving a third shot.

This includes about 1.3 million people with reduced immunity and some 500,000 who live or work at nursing homes and care facilities, The Washington Post reported.

“The purpose is to prevent deaths and critically ill cases in the high-risk group amid a surge in infections since omicron became the dominant variant,” the KDCA said in a statement.

About 85 per cent of South Koreaa¿s 52 million people are considered fully vaccinated. Just over 57 per cent have received a third shot, or booster. A fourth shot, or second booster, can be received four months after the third, the KDCA said.

According to KDCA’s commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong, the agency does not have plans to expand the fourth dose to all adults, the report said.

South Korea’s daily caseload on Monday topped 50,000 for the fifth day in a row, a 10-fold increase from the levels seen three weeks ago.A

About 1,200 coronavirus patients are in hospitals as of Monday, according to the KDCA. The country’s health officials warned that the rise in infections could lead to more deaths and critically ill cases.

Meanwhile, Sweden’s Health Agency also on Monday recommended people aged 80 or above should receive a fourth jab to ward off waning immunity amid the rampant spread of the Omicron variant, the Guardian reported.

The recommendation also covered all people living in nursing homes or who receive assisted living services at home. The second booster shot should be administered at least four months after the first booster jab, the agency said in a statement.

Sweden hit record levels of infections earlier this year as Omicron spread rapidly across the country.

In January, Israel became the first country to roll out a fourth dose of Covid-19 vaccine to health workers and people aged 60 years old and those with weakened immune systems.

Several European countries including Hungary and Denmark have considered rolling out the second booster dose in the wake of the vaccine evading Omicron variant.

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