South Korean youth fight 'click war' for vaccines

To Kim Hyun-Jin's frustration, an online map showing available vaccines in Seoul constantly turns up empty.

"It's like war. I've been refreshing the website by madly clicking since the morning, but it never comes up. I'm angry and hopeless, wasting my time."

Young people like Kim feel unfairly singled out by authorities as the main driver of its worst-ever COVID-19 outbreak.

Yet the government has prioritized older, more vulnerable people in its vaccination push.

With a handful of exceptions, only South Koreans over the age of 55 are currently able to make reservations to be vaccinated.

But a 'no show' opens up their slot to anyone - including the nation's youth.

Now a 'click war' is emerging among them, in the dim hopes that a leftover shot may just be one more click away.

But after 10 days of refreshing the page, 32-year-old Kim has nothing to show for it.

"The young generation, like us, has to go to school and work... I think it is unfair to see young people getting blamed for the latest outbreak."

Kim Ha-Ram calls herself a lucky winner of the "click war".

The 21-year-old college student secured a Pfizer dose, just days before daily infections skyrocketed last week, triggering a rush for vaccines.

"I canceled my entire (next) day's schedule and stayed home to secure a vaccine, and I started clicking 10 times a second. After hours of mad clicking, only looking at the phone, I was able to get a vaccine at around 3:50 p.m."

On paper, South Korea has bought enough doses to vaccinate its population twice over.

But the campaign has turned sluggish amid global supply shortages and shipment delays.

Just over 30% of the population has received at least one dose of a vaccine as of Thursday (July 15).

Other developed nations such as Britain and Singapore have twice that number.

Though health officials on Wednesday (July 14) said vaccine shipments would pick up again starting August, and that the government aims to vaccine all those eligible - including the young - by September.

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