S. Korea authorizes COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11

A medical worker uses a loud speaker to give information to people waiting for their coronavirus test at a makeshift testing site in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 23, 2022. (Photo: AP)

SEOUL, Feb. 23 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's drug safety agency on Wednesday authorized the use of COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5-11 for the first time amid the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

The two-dose vaccine, developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, was approved for use among minors aged 5 through 11, with a lower dose level of 10 micrograms than 30 micrograms for those aged 12 or above, according to the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

The children will receive two doses of the vaccine with a three-week interval. Among them, those with their immunity compromised can get a booster shot four weeks later.

The ministry said the authorization was aimed at helping prevent the infections and the hospitalizations of the children amid the spread of the highly-contagious Omicron variant.

In the latest tally, the country reported a record high of 171,452 daily COVID-19 cases for the past 24 hours, lifting the total number of infections to 2,329,182.

Schools here are scheduled to reopen in early March, fueling worries about cluster infections among primary school students.

The health authorities said it planned to announce a detailed schedule for the vaccination of the children next month.