File photo (Ministry of Defense-Yonhap)
South Korea plans to send a military air tanker to the United States this week to bring coronavirus vaccines that Washington pledged to provide to the country, the defense ministry said Monday.
The US plans to provide Johnson & Johnson (J&J)'s Janssen vaccine doses for 1 million people after President Joe Biden vowed to help South Korea with vaccine supplies to fully inoculate all 550,000 Korean troops.
"We are scheduled to send a (KC-330) air refueling tanker on Wednesday, which is to return home on Saturday with the vaccines," Minister Suh Wook said during a parliamentary session.
South Korea introduced four Cygnus multi-role tankers in 2019 to expand operation areas. Each can carry 47 tons of cargo and 300 crewmembers, according to the ministry.
The vaccines will be administered to reservists, members of civil defense and those related to the country's defense and foreign affairs, and those aged under 30 will be excluded amid concerns over blood clot cases.
Volunteers will get shots from June 10-20 after making reservations. Currently, there are 538,000 reservists, 3 million members of civil defense and around 137,000 people in the defense and foreign affairs circle.
Of active-duty South Korean troops, more than 116,700 in their 30s and older have already received the AstraZeneca vaccine, and younger soldiers will receive Pfizer's vaccine starting in June. (Yonhap)