(Adds KDCA director’s comment in paragraph 4)
SEOUL, June 10 (Reuters) - South Korea is considering plans to vaccinate workers at key businesses including chip and electronics firms to minimise disruptions to production, the government said on Thursday, amid global efforts to boost supply of scarce computer chips.
The labour ministry has sent letters to companies including Samsung Electronics Co Ltd, SK Hynix Inc and LG Electronics Inc seeking information on their COVID-19 vaccination needs, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported on Wednesday, citing government and industry sources.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) and labour ministry said they were discussing options with other government agencies but no specifics had been decided.
“When we set up our vaccination plans for the third quarter, we will review needs for such priorities and consult with relevant ministries,” KDCA director Jeong Eun-Kyeong told a briefing, when asked about vaccinating those who work in the key industries.
Samsung Electronics, SK Hynix and LG Electronics said they had received the letter.
The move comes amid a global chip shortage that has affected manufacturers around the world, particularly carmakers. Samsung and SK Hynix are the world’s top two memory chip makers.
The South Korean government is trying to ramp up its inoculation drive after a slow start.
One plan under consideration is to provide vaccines for workers at units that run non-stop, and for those deemed essential to the economy.
The government also said it planned to accelerate talks with other countries on opening travel bubbles.
Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum said South Korea wanted to re-open travel with countries including Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and Guam, allowing people to visit without needing to quarantine.
“Resuming international travel will mark the beginning of life going back to normal,” he said during a government meeting.
South Korea’s transport and culture ministries said they would only allow group tours for those who are fully vaccinated during the initial phase of any travel bubble.
South Korea has inoculated about 10 million people, or 19.6% of its 52 million people, and plans to vaccinate 70% by the third quarter.
The country reported 611 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 146,303 infections, with 1,979 deaths. (Reporting by Heekyong Yang and Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Stephen Coates and Peter Graff)