South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) receives a shot of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine at a public health facility in Seoul on Tuesday. Photo by Yonhap/EPA-EFE
March 23 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and first lady Kim Jung-sook received the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday amid persistent vaccine skepticism in the country.
Moon, 68, was inoculated at a public health center in central Seoul ahead of plans to attend the G7 Summit in Britain in June. South Korea was officially invited to the gathering of the world's most advanced economies as a guest for the first time in January.
The South Korean leader received the vaccine from the British-Swedish firm to allay public concerns over AstraZeneca's side effects, according to the Donga Ilbo.
As Moon was administered the vaccine, he reportedly said the injection "did not hurt" and there were "no issues." On Monday, the president had said at a meeting with aides policies should focus on easing public skepticism about vaccine safety.
Seoul's presidential Blue House said Moon returned to work after receiving his vaccine.
Last week, local officials had raised the issue of a "vaccine leave" for recipients and did not rule out the possibility of making the policy mandatory.
On Tuesday, Yonhap reported the policy could be optional rather than mandatory, citing official views that the policy potentially could impact small businesses.
Moon leaves office next year. South Korea's Constitution limits presidents to a single five-year term.
Ahead of his final year in office, Moon's approval rating has tumbled to its lowest point.
Local polling firm Realmeter said Monday that Moon's rating fell to 34.1%, citing data from a five-day survey of 2,510 adults nationwide, Yonhap reported.
More than 62% of respondents said they "disapprove" of his presidency, the highest on record. The dive in approval rating is due in part to a real estate speculation scandal involving public servants, the report said.
Moon's approval rating soared as high as 80% in 2018 after he held a landmark summit with North Korea's Kim Jong Un.