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[Newsmaker] USFK to begin COVID-19 vaccination Tuesday

A truck carrying the first shipment of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine for the US Forces Korea (USFK) leaves a freight terminal of Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, after it was unloaded from a FedEx cargo plane amid the COVID-19 pandemic last Friday. (Yonhap)
A truck carrying the first shipment of Moderna's coronavirus vaccine for the US Forces Korea (USFK) leaves a freight terminal of Incheon International Airport, west of Seoul, after it was unloaded from a FedEx cargo plane amid the COVID-19 pandemic last Friday. (Yonhap)

US Forces Korea (USFK) will start administering its initial doses of a COVID-19 vaccine this week, beginning with health care workers, officials said Monday.

USFK received the first shipment of Moderna's vaccine on Friday as Camp Humphreys was chosen by the US government as one of four sites outside the continental US that will receive the initial vaccination.

"USFK has received its initial shipment of Moderna COVID-19 vaccine and will begin inoculations tomorrow at US Army Garrison Camp Humphreys as well as Osan and Kunsan Air Bases," USFK spokesperson Col. Lee Peters said in a statement to Yonhap News Agency.

"The initial group will be front-line health care workers, first responders and select individuals as authorized by the Department of Defense," he said. "We have received enough vaccines to inoculate our initial phase as intended by (the Department of Defense)."

The spokesperson did not say how many doses the command has received, citing "operational security concerns," but another USFK official said that the vaccine will be administered in three phases and around 100 people will get the shot first.

USFK commander Gen. Robert Abrams said earlier that his command is expected to receive additional shipments for all eligible USFK-affiliated community members as production and distribution increases.

The vaccine was authorized for emergency use and vaccination is voluntary, but the command strongly recommends its members receive the vaccine.

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Moderna's vaccine earlier this month as the country's second COVID-19 vaccine after Pfizer's.

Around 40 South Korean service members affiliated with the Korean Augmentation to the US Army, known as KATUSA, are working at Allgood Army Community Hospital inside Camp Humphreys, and they could also be subject to the inoculation, officials said.

"Currently, working-level talks between the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), USFK and the defense ministry are under way about the matter," ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan told a regular briefing.

USFK is expected to make an official request for formal consultations with the Seoul ministry, and the two sides will make a related decision accordingly, a ministry official said. (Yonhap)

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