Dear citizens of Seoul,
This is Seo Jung-hyup, Acting Mayor of Seoul.
As of midnight on Wed, Feb. 24, Seoul reached 27,735 confirmed cases of COVID-19, an increase by 144 compared to the previous day. Thanks to the voluntary cooperation of citizens and contribution and sacrifice of small businesses, the self-employed and medical staff, the number of new confirmed cases in Seoul has been between one and two hundred since the beginning of last month. However, the number is still wavering. It is too early to feel relieved as there has been a day when there were more than 250 new confirmed cases recently, and the number of new confirmed cases per day is frequently near 200.
In addition, there occur collective infections at vulnerable facilities, including hospital and daycare centers, and the latent period after the Seollal holidays when many trips and meetings happened is not completely over yet. The mutant virus from overseas is also the factor for another wave of disease.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) will continue to control COVID-19 by firmly operating the 3T (test, trace, treat) S-disinfection system. At the same time, we will concentrate our ability in pursuing the vaccination against COVID-19 stably and according to the plan.
The SMG will “kick off vaccination for 10 million citizens” starting on Feb. 26.
Before the implementation, I would like to ask for your active participation by explaining the plan and process of vaccination.
The SMG will be taking action to vaccinate about 6.06 million citizens, more than 70% of its population, who are aged over 18 before the end of October, the season of the influenza epidemic.
With the unprecedented task of vaccinating all citizens around the corner, the SMG has prepared the “333 Initiative”—3 stages (vaccination targets), 3 tracks (vaccination methods), and 3-fold management (monitoring and measures).
First, we classify the targets of vaccination into three groups and vaccinate them over three stages. The priority was decided considering the risk of serious illness or death, the medical/disinfection/social functions, and the risk of transmission in local communities.
The targets for the vaccination in the 1st stage (February–March) are 96,000 individuals, which amount to 1.6% of all targets. Starting on the 26th, the admitted patients aged under 65 and workers of 137 nursing hospitals and 277 nursing facilities downtown Seoul will be vaccinated. As 92.1% of the targets have agreed to be vaccinated, implementation will be achieved quickly. After that, the vaccination for workers of high-risk medical institutions and personnel who respond to COVID-19 will be conducted. The primary inoculation will be done until March and the secondary one will be completed by April–May.
In nursing hospitals where doctors work, vaccination will be administered after a direct delivery of vaccines; in nursing facilities, vaccination teams of public health centers made up of doctors and nurses or doctors for each facility will visit them for vaccination.
The targets for the vaccination in the 2nd stage (April–June) are 1.85 million individuals, 30.5% of the total targets. About 1,545,000 people aged over 65, 10,000 users of in-home welfare facilities for the elderly and 5,700 workers of them, 260,000 workers at medical institutions and pharmacies, who are excluded from the list of targets in the 1st stage of vaccination, and about 28,000 admitted patients of facilities for the disabled and the homeless and workers of them will be eligible to receive vaccination.
The targets for the vaccination in the 3rd stage (July–October) are 4.11 million individuals, 67.8% of all targets. We will sequentially expand vaccination targets, including adults aged 50 to 64, people with chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, soldiers, police officers, fire fighters, social workers, workers in education and childcare facilities, and other citizens.
Second, the vaccination method is divided into three tracks—that is, vaccination centers, consigned medical institutions, and traveling vaccination, by comprehensively considering the characteristics of vaccines, the time of introduction, and the situation of the vaccination targets.
First of all, Pfizer’s and Moderna’s vaccines, which require cryogenic storage, will be administered at vaccination centers. The government will install and operate one central vaccination center in the National Medical Center and the SMG will install and operate 29 regional vaccination centers in large public facilities, such as public community centers and gyms.
The centers will essentially be established, one per autonomous district. However, in the four districts with populations of more than 500,000, that is, Gangnam, Gangseo, Nowon, and Songpa, the SMG will install an additional center to prevent congestion.
25 places have been confirmed as regional vaccination centers. The first regional vaccination center in Seoul will be installed in a multi-purpose auditorium in Seongdong-gu Office. Its operation will begin in mid-March.
Since it will be located 4 minutes away from 4 subway lines, it will have excellent accessibility. It will also have an optimal environment with a parking lot for 250 cars, self-powered ventilation facilities, and other facilities, such as CCTV. A situation room will also be in operation to manage the vaccination center around the clock in cooperation with the military and police. Vaccinations will be entrusted to Seoul National University Hospital through an MOU. It is expected that a specialized medical support system will be operated not only for smooth the acquisition of human resources, but also for pre-examination, vaccination, monitoring of adverse reactions, and response to emergencies.
The SMG will do its best to make the first regional vaccination center an exemplary model to use it as a foothold for the creation of customized vaccination centers that are customized to local conditions.
Furthermore, the SMG is planning to establish a specialized operation model unique to Seoul by encouraging the match between the “regional vaccination center & large hospital” like the case of the first center by taking advantage of Seoul’s concentrated infrastructure of large hospitals.
The SMG will establish 8 more regional vaccination centers by March and complete the establishment of the rest in all 25 autonomous districts by July.
The SMG will also secure 3,500 consigned medical institutions by June to enable citizens to comfortably receive vaccinations at the clinics that they frequent close to their homes.
We have secured 3,151 institutions through a survey on demand at the end of January. We will perform on-site inspections in accordance with the expansion of vaccine supply, and sequentially sign the consignment contracts.
These institutions will begin operation in order, and new consigned medical institutions will be discovered through additional surveys on demand, promotion of the vaccination, and guidance.
The “traveling vaccination” is for those who may find it difficult to go get vaccinated, such as the admitted patients and workers of nursing facilities for the elderly and facilities for the severely disabled. A total of 41 traveling vaccination teams will be created and operated in 25 autonomous districts with 74 doctors, 173 nurses, and 170 administrative workers.
Third, the SMG will respond to adverse reactions after vaccination with systematic 3 layers of management, including pre-examination, monitoring, and emergency measures, so that citizens can be vaccinated without worry.
At the stage of pre-examination before vaccination, we will sort out anaphylaxis risk groups related to allergic reactions, and spend 15 to 30 minutes observing and monitoring adverse reactions after vaccination. If a person has an adverse reaction after returning home and reports it, we will immediately cooperate with a hospital for emergency measures.
In particular, we will run the “public-private joint quick response team” to investigate and respond to severe emergencies. A hotline between the SMG, districts and the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency will be in operation for communication on adverse reactions as well.
In addition, we will check for adverse reactions through a text notification after three days and operate platforms such as a vaccination assistant app and to enable vaccinated citizens to easily report adverse reactions.
Lastly, the SMG will do its best to transparently disclose information and communicate with citizens.
The SMG has been operating a webpage dedicated to vaccine information since Thu, Feb. 18 in order to relieve the curiosity of citizens. As soon as the vaccination starts on Fri, Feb. 26, the daily vaccination status, number of vaccinated people, vaccination facilities, as well as the status of adverse reactions and results of measures will be transparently disclosed.
Additionally, the operation of “COVID-19 vaccination consultation center” began at the Dasan Call Center where professional nurses are prepared to offer professional answers starting today. Starting in May, when the vaccination will be in full swing, additional medical personnel including nurses will be employed to provide a callback service where they call back to answer specialized questions that are difficult to answer immediately.
The SMG will also receive and address the reports and complaints related to the vaccination process by operating the civil complaint channel related to the vaccination on its official website.
We are in about to turn a new corner for COVID-19 vaccination.
It is also the time to restore our daily lives. In order for the plan of vaccination prepared by the SMG to be actualized as scheduled and without problems, we need the trust and cooperation of citizens. We urge you to actively participate in vaccination for a safe society without the risk of infectious disease and the restoration of our lost daily life, meetings, and public economy.
In addition, the anticipation for vaccination should not lead to any carelessness. The risk of another wave of COVID-19 is always with us until the day we can take off our masks after forming the collective immunity. If that happens, the living disinfection net will be in ruin and our hope of forming collective immunity will face difficulties.
Now is the time that we must adhere to the disease control and prevention rules more strictly than ever in order to have a hopeful time together after vaccination.
The SMG will carefully prepare and thoroughly carry out the “333 Initiative” to meet the citizens’ expectations and trust. Thank you.