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The moon hits AstraZeneca as South Korea expands its COVID-19 vaccine

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SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean President Moon Jae-in received the AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday ahead of a trip abroad as the country began inoculating more seniors and health workers in a bid to speed up its vaccination.

Moon, 68, was shot by a community clinic near his Seoul office to prepare for a planned visit to the UK for a G7 summit in June.

The moon woman and nine aides who will accompany her on the trip, including National Security Adviser Suh Hoon, were also vaccinated, his office said in a statement.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has invited South Korea, India and Australia to attend the summit as guests.

The South Korean government on Tuesday began inoculating nearly 300,000 people into care hospitals and nursing homes who are 65 or older and medical staff there as the vaccination pace increases.

About 680,000 high-risk healthcare professionals and critically ill people have been vaccinated since the campaign began in late February, according to the Korean Agency for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA).

Authorities aim to inoculate nearly a quarter of the population of 52 million countries by June and achieve herd immunity by November amid a third wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.

The KDCA allowed people performing a key public mission such as a diplomatic or military mission to be vaccinated starting this month.

Patients and staff at the care facility will also receive an AstraZeneca stroke, KDCA said, with about 77% of the 375,000 qualified accepting to receive it.

Authorities reaffirmed on Monday that they had found no evidence of health risk despite reports of blood clots among those who received the AstraZeneca vaccine in Europe.

South Korea authorized the product for people 65 and older this month after delaying its use for that age group, citing a lack of clinical data.

“I’m ready to get an AstraZeneca vaccine first if it helps people make sure they feel safe about participating in the campaign,” said Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun at a meeting on Tuesday.

KDCA reported 346 new cases as of Monday, bringing the total case load to 99,421, with 1,704 deaths.

Reporting by Hyonhee Shin. Edited by Gerry Doyle

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