National vaccinations against COVID-19 in Korea have been stepped up, with the government's pledge to efficiently accelerate the process raising the prospect of reaching the goal of herd immunity by November.
A government task force on national vaccination against the coronavirus said that as of June 4, 7,086,292 people had received the first shot of a vaccine, or 13.8% of the population. In just a week, the figure nearly doubled the 7% (4,030,744) reported on May 27.
The international statistical site Our World in Data said that as of on June 2, Korea's vaccination rate of 12.4% exceeded the global average of 11.1%.
Thus vaccinations in Korea are back on track thanks to a stabilized supply stemming from the government's efforts to secure vaccines, improved public awareness and incentives for people to get their shots.
A survey of perceptions of COVID-19 jointly conducted by the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism on May 31 found that 70% of Koreans intended to get inoculated, up 7.8 percentage points from last month.
The government is also offering select exemptions from COVID-19 restrictions for those getting vaccinated. Since May 1, people receiving their first shots have been exempt from the family gathering restriction limiting the number of guests and can visit nursing hospitals and facilities to see patients in person.
Other perks include a discount on or free admission to national parks and recreational forests, palaces and concert halls. And from next month, those immunized need not wear masks outdoors at parks and hiking trails.
Son Young-rae, a senior epidemiological strategist at the Central Disaster Management Headquarters, told a regular briefing on June 3, "We anticipate reaching our goal of vaccinating 13 million people plus alpha in the first half of the year."