Anchor: South Korea has begun administering its first available COVID-19 vaccines to medical workers and patients at long-term care facilities. The immunization program launches some 13 months after the first coronavirus case was reported in the country. The government is aiming to restore some level of normalcy by November.
Kim Bum-soo has more.
Report: South Korea's first inoculations began Friday morning across one-thousand-915 nursing homes and public health centers with the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Sixty-one-year-old Lee Kyung-soon, an employee at a nursing home in Seoul's Nowon district, was the first to receive the vaccine in the country at 8:45 a.m.
[Sound bite: Lee Kyung-soon - Geriatric care worker, Sanggye senior care center (Korean-English translation)]
"I was afraid of getting infected but I am grateful that such worries will disappear when you get vaccinated... "
"I hope everyone gets vaccinated to create herd immunity, and we can take off the masks, meet family members and return to normalcy."
Geriatric care worker Shin Jung-sook was the first to receive the shot at the Geumcheon district public health center in Seoul.
[Sound bite: Shin Jung-sook - Geriatric care worker, In-young Silver senior care center (Korean-English translation)]
"I came without knowing that I would be the first to receive the shot. Now that I am vaccinated, it feels good to have peace of mind. Because it's not just me but people around me who can get affected. I think it is right to get vaccinated."
By Friday evening, 16-thousand-813 people were vaccinated nationwide.
President Moon Jae-in and Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency Commissioner Jeong Eun-kyeong visited a public health center in Seoul's Mapo district to oversee the vaccinations.
The rollout begins as the South Korean government was criticized by some for failing to start its immunization campaign earlier.
South Korea is the last country to begin the program among the 37 OECD member states.
Through the program, the government aims to immunize more than 70 percent of the population by September, in order to achieve herd immunity by November.
Kim Bum-soo, KBS World Radio News.