S. Korea recommends 5 vaccinations for foreigners

August 7, 2015

By Chung Hyun-chae

(Source: The Korean Society of Infectious Diseases)

(Source: The Korean Society of Infectious Diseases)

The Korean Society of Infectious Diseases has recommended five vaccinations for foreigners staying in the country.

The list is a first for foreign residents here.

The vaccinations are to prevent tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis (Tdap); hepatitis A; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); chicken pox; and Japanese encephalitis.

“With the number of foreigners entering and staying in Korea growing, we decided to provide recommendations for vaccines to protect foreigners from contagious diseases prevalent in Korea, as well as to prevent them from bringing the diseases from their homelands to Korea,” Cheong Hee-jin, chairman of the society’s Committee of Adult Immunization, said.

The committee said the number of acellular pertussis (whooping cough) patients has been increasing, from 20 in 2001 to 97 in 2011 and 230 in 2012.

“Despite the growing number, not many people here know about Tdap,” Cheong said. “Adults should be careful not to infect infants with weak immune systems with the disease.”

The number of hepatitis A patients dropped in the 1970s with improved sanitation, but had risen since the mid-2000s.

The World Health Organization said in 2014 that measles were nearly eradicated in Korea. But the disease spread in some Southeast Asian countries, and there have been cases of patients coming from the region to Korea.

“While people need the vaccination twice, people in some underdeveloped and developing countries have had it only once,” Cheong said. “Those who are not sure of how many vaccinations they have had are recommended to have an additional shot.”

Korea is among a few countries that offer free vaccination for chicken pox. “We recommend foreign children aged between 12 and 15 months have the vaccination like Korean children,” Cheong said.

Regarding Japanese encephalitis, the committee said there has been no case involving foreign tourists. But health authorities issued a warning against the disease on Thursday because more than 80 percent of mosquito samples caught in Busan were culex pipiens pallens that carry Japanese encephalitis.

“It is meaningful that the country has come up with recommendations on vaccinations for the health of both Koreans and foreigners,” Cheong said.

The number of Koreans and foreigners entering or leaving the country reached 32.2 million in the first half of the year. Some 1.75 million foreigners are staying here.

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