Korea begins free influenza vaccination program amid rising cases

2023.09.22 14:39:01 | 2023.09.22 14:52:28

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]

South Korea is on high alert as the number of influenza cases is on a surge particularly among children and teenagers.

According to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency on Friday, there were 13.1 suspected flu patients per 1,000 outpatients reported in 196 medical institutions nationwide between Sept. 10 and 16.

The figure represents a 16 percent increase compared to the previous week, which had 11.3 patients per 1,000 outpatients, already surpassing the benchmark threshold of 6.5 patients per 1,000 for the 2023-2024 flu season.

Flu cases have persisted for an extended period since the decline in Covid-19 cases last year.

Although there was a decrease in the number of patients for seven consecutive weeks since mid-July, it never dropped below the threshold of 4.9 patients per 1,000 from the previous flu season.

The resurgence of flu cases is particularly noticeable among children and teenagers who have returned to school.

In the age group of 7 to 12, there were 30.8 suspected flu patients per 1,000, which is 4.7 times higher than the flu season benchmark. In the age group of 13 to 18, there were 20.0 suspected flu patients per 1,000.

The authority is urging high-risk groups to actively participate in vaccination efforts to combat the unusually prolonged flu season.

This year’s national flu vaccination campaign for children started on Wednesday. Infants aged 6 months to 13 years, pregnant women, and those aged 65 and older can receive the vaccine for free until April 30 next year.

By Lee Yoon-jae and Chang Iou-chung

[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business Newspaper & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]