Defense Minister Suh Wook (front) is briefed on the military drill conducted to ship the first batch of coronavirus vaccines with an Air Force transporter plane at Seoul Air Base, Feb. 19, 2021. (Yonhap)
South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook on Monday chaired a teleconference reviewing the last-minute preparations for the first round of coronavirus vaccinations to begin Friday.
The military has practiced safely delivering the vaccines -- from AstraZeneca and Pfizer -- to about 340,000 patients and medical personnel in nursing homes and COVID-19 treatment centers.
Pfizer vaccines need to be kept at temperatures at least as cold as minus 60 degrees Celsius, while AstraZeneca vaccines can be kept at normal refrigeration temperatures.
At the conference, key commanders and health authorities discussed contingencies should they face shipment delays. An overwhelming majority of the early candidates, who will not be able to choose which vaccine to get, said they were comfortable with the inoculations.
The public, however, is sharply divided. The number of those eager to be vaccinated and those hesitant were found to be roughly the same at 45.8 percent and 45.7 percent, respectively, according to a local pollster that conducted the survey on 1,020 adults from Friday to Saturday.
Meanwhile half of respondents said they trust the government in handling vaccinations.
“We’re all here today for a swift and safe vaccine rollout, which is the very first step toward a successful nationwide inoculation,” Defense Minister Suh Wook said, adding the pangovernmental efforts should help bring back the peaceful everyday life stolen by the pandemic.
By Choi Si-young (firstname.lastname@example.org