Seasonal flu shots begin and for many they are free
Korea began administering free seasonal flu shots to high-risk groups Wednesday amid growing worries over a potential double epidemic of Covid-19 and the flu.
The country started the 2022-2023 seasonal flu vaccination campaign Wednesday, which will run through April 30, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Eligible recipients are children between six months and 13 years old, pregnant women, and people 65 or older, including foreign nationals. These groups can get vaccinated at some 20,000 medical facilities nationwide.
Inoculations started Wednesday for children between six months to nine years old who have not been vaccinated before. They need a second shot with a four-week interval.
From Oct. 5, children aged six months to 13 years old and pregnant women who only need one shot will be able to receive a flu shot.
People 65 or older will be eligible starting Oct 12.
People 75 or older can get vaccinated from Oct. 12, followed by people between the ages of 70 to 74 from Oct. 17 and people between the ages of 65 and 69 from Oct. 20.
Foreigners in Korea on long-term stays are eligible for free shots if they fall in the selected age groups, the KDCA told the Korea JoongAng Daily.
To receive a shot, foreigners must have a visa and a foreign registration number.
Children and pregnant women can receive free vaccinations until April 30 next year, while shots for older age group will only be available through the end of this year.
Flu shots can be received at designated medical institutions or public health centers across the country regardless of a person’s home address.
People not eligible for free shots can pay at a clinic.
The KDCA said the flu shot and the Covid-19 vaccine can be done at the same time, in different arms.
“The flu vaccine is more important than ever this year due to concerns over a simultaneous outbreak with Covid-19,” the KDCA said.
Korea is also offering Moderna’s new Covid-19 vaccine designed to protect against the Omicron variant from next month, health authorities announced Wednesday.
The vaccine, which is responsive to both the initial coronavirus strains and Omicron BA.1, is planned to be given as a booster for people who are deemed to be at higher risk, such as the elderly and immunocompromised people.
The bivalent vaccine was approved by the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety on Monday, and the country received an initial shipment of 1.61 million doses.
Reservations will be taken from Sept. 27 for people over the age of 59; immunocompromised people; and residents and employees at nursing homes, mental hospitals, facilities for people with disabilities and for the homeless. Vaccines will be administered beginning Oct. 11.
People who have passed four months since the last shot or infection are recommended for the Omicron-specific vaccine.
Health authorities said they will establish a vaccination plan for the rest of the general population.
BY SEO JI-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]