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The halt in vaccination appointments for people in the upper 50s age bracket came last night, the first day that inoculation bookings were opened to under-60s.

While South Korea is ahead of its schedule in vaccination targets, the pace has slowed sharply in recent weeks to around 30,000 doses a day from a peak of 850,000 earlier, as it finalises shipment schedules to begin Moderna Covid-19 inoculations for people in their 50s.

“Due to strong demand, 1.85 million Moderna doses were fully booked and reservations for those who couldn’t sign up will resume on July 19,” the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said in a statement. A total of around 3.52 million people in the 55-59 age group were eligible to sign up, leaving 1.67 million still to reserve shots.

Just about 11.6% of the country’s 52 million population has completed vaccination, including receiving both shots for products requiring two doses, while 30.4% have received one dose, according to government data.

Health authorities sought to reassure the public that enough vaccine supply will be secured in August for the 55-59 age group who could not book yesterday and for other people in their 50s, a KDCA official told a briefing. “We deeply apologise for failing to notify in advance of the possibility of early closure,” the official said.

The new cases brought South Korea’s total tally to 170,296, with 2,048 deaths, KDCA data showed.

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