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Free flu shots for children under 9 offered starting Tuesday

A parent waits for her child`s turn for flu vaccine shot Tuesday at a local clinic. (Yonhap)
A parent waits for her child`s turn for flu vaccine shot Tuesday at a local clinic. (Yonhap)
Children under the age of 9 will be offered free flu shots starting Tuesday as the government is keen to prevent the coronavirus and influenza from spreading simultaneously this fall.

The group is the first cohort to be offered free flu vaccinations this fall as part of the government’s disease control initiative, which will eventually be extended to 19 million people. Health authorities are keen on providing flu shots as it is difficult to distinguish COVID-19 cases from flu cases. The two diseases share some symptoms including coughing, sore throat and fever.

The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Monday that children aged between 6 months and 18 years, pregnant women and those aged 62 years and above will be offered free flu shots through November. Together, these groups account for 37 percent of the population.

The disease control authority is prioritizing young children, who need two shots of the flu vaccine. Children under 9 who have never gotten a flu shot or have had only one dose before July 1 are eligible for the free service.

Free flu shots will begin Sept. 22 for older children and pregnant women, and in mid-October for those aged 62 years and above.

Foreigners lawfully residing in Korea are also eligible for free shots if they meet the age or pregnancy requirements.

The country’s health authorities are reviewing whether to grant approval for test kits that can detect both the new coronavirus and seasonal flu. A number of institutions have applied for approval from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety.

By Ko Jun-tae (ko.juntae@heraldcorp.com)
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