A month ago, Korean authorities finally recognised foreign vaccinations. Until that point, expats who had been vaccinated abroad were unable to verify their vaccination status through the Korean [COVID-19] Vaccination Verification System (COOV). The change comes at the right time, as new pandemic regulations see public facilities like restaurants, cafes and cinemas, require proof of vaccination status. Whether you need your 2nd vaccine shot, your booster, or even your 1st, this is the guide for you. Let’s take a look at How to Get Vaccinated in Korea.
If you have been fully vaccinated in your home country, you may be eligible to apply for a quarantine exemption certificate through the Korean embassy. However, in order to control the spread of the omicron variant, quarantine exemption is mostly unavailable, regardless of your country of origin or vaccination status. Therefore, if you are planning to travel to South Korea, you will almost certainly be required to quarantine for 14 days.
Once you have completed the self-isolation period, head to your local health centre, along with 2 forms of identification and your foreign vaccination certificates. ID can include your passport, alien registration card (ARC), and driver’s license. At the health centre, the staff will help set you up on the COOV app. After 1-2 working days, you can launch the app on your phone and you’re good to go!
Most public places in Korea use a QR code check-in system, to facilitate tracing of disease cases, and most recently, to verify vaccination status. Once you have launched and set up the COOV app on your phone, you should make an account on either Kakao or Naver, if you haven’t done so already (English language available.) You can then sync the Kakao or Naver QR check-in function with your COOV app, so when you scan your QR code somewhere, it will show that you have been vaccinated.
**Note: You need a Korean phone number to use the QR code function on both Kakao and Naver.
There are several different methods to be vaccinated in Korea. Many foreigners that live and work in Korea may have their vaccinations scheduled by the organizations they work for. On that note, many places of work will grant their employees a complimentary vacation day to receive the vaccine, as well as recover from any side effects. However, not all companies offer this. The standard way to book your vaccination is through the Korean government’s vaccine reservation system.
Search ‘코로나백신접종예약’ on Naver and click the first search result. Once agreeing to the T&Cs, you can select the option through which to verify your identity, i.e. Naver, Kakao, PASS, etc. The easiest way to do this is on a computer, as you can use your chosen app to verify easily. Once complete, you can fill out your details on the next page. Unfortunately, this part is not available in English. Please refer to the image below when filling out the details.
** Note: You cannot access the booking site until you are eligible for a vaccine, which is typically a minimum of 2 months after your 2nd shot.
Just like QR Check-in, you can use Naver or Kakao to sign up for leftover vaccine notifications. In my case, I chose Naver. Here is how you can get vaccinated in Korea in the most carefree, easy way. Start by searching “잔여백신 예약” on Naver and see the first result.
If you click on the notification, you will be taken to a reservation page and given the option to see how many vaccines are available. Instead of a specific reservation time, you receive a deadline until which you should arrive at the clinic. Currently, Korean health authorities are primarily administering Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for booster shots.
Once you arrive at the clinic, you can register with the front desk staff as if you were attending a normal doctor’s appointment. In my case, I went to a different clinic from the one I regularly attend, so I had to fill out a new patient form and inform the staff of any pre-existing conditions and allergies. You sit and wait until called, but once you are, the process is very fast! Simply go into the doctor’s room, lift a sleeve, and before you know it the shot is done! The doctor gave me a leaflet with information on side effects and received a text message confirming my vaccination. The clinic staff will instruct you to wait for 15 minutes before leaving, in case you have any immediate side effects.
Finally, a few days after your booster vaccination, you can update your COOV app.