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Free COVID-19 shot to be offered from October

March 22, 2023 - 14:45 By Lee Jung-youn
Health and Welfare Minister Cho Kyu-hong speaks at the meeting of the COVID-19 Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures headquarters in Seoul, Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The government will offer free COVID-19 vaccinations to all Korean nationals and residents with foreign registration numbers in the final quarter of the year to better control the spread of the disease that the authorities believe is under control. The vaccine will likely be offered once a year for free, similar to flu shots.

While it has yet to be officially confirmed, once-a-year vaccinations will likely be maintained based on scientific evidence, according to Kim Won-ki, an official at the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency.

“To maintain a stable quarantine situation and speed up daily recovery, protecting high-risk groups is paramount,” Health and Welfare Minister Cho Kyu-hong said at a meeting of the COVID-19 Central Disaster and Safety Countermeasures headquarters held at the Government Complex Seoul on Wednesday. One vaccination will be available per person between October and December.

The free vaccination is highly recommended for high-risk groups, such as those aged 65 or older, workers at infection-prone places, and immunocompromised people.

Immunocompromised people in particular can be vaccinated twice this year in the second and fourth quarters, considering the short duration of their antibodies.

“Vaccination has protected many lives in the past two years. Please receive vaccination actively for yourself, your family and your neighborhoods,” said Cho, adding that the overall COVID-19 situation in Korea is under control.

“The average daily number of confirmed COVID-19 patients rose slightly to 10,000 in the second week of March, right after the new school semester started, but fell right back to 9,000 last week. The reproduction number also fell below 1 to 0.98. The utilization rate of beds for critically ill patients is also 26.5 percent, which is manageable.”

Meanwhile, additional winter vaccinations, which the government has been conducting since October last year, will end on April 8. Even after this additional vaccination period, some medical institutions will keep providing the service.