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Korea promotes vaccination in World Immunization Week

Officials from the Health Authority and Bungaeman (Lightning Man), an honorary ambassador of vaccination campaigns for Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, wave campaign flags and celebrations at a culture center in Sejong, Wednesday. Yonhap

By Bahk Eun-ji

Vaccines are the most important shield to protect people from hazardous diseases. Although immunization saves many lives, especially those children, still nearly 20 million youngsters around the world remain unvaccinated or under-vaccinated, according to data by UNICEF.

Marking Global Immunization Week designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the last week of April, the Ministry of Health and Welfare and Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention held for Vaccination, Wednesday, Designing Bungaeman, and popular children's TV character, with an honorary ambassador to promote inocculations.

The following are eight diseases for which the authorities strongly recommend everyone to get vaccinated.

Mumps and varicella (chickenpox)

Both mumps and varicella spread rapidly in March, when the new semester begins. Mumps, also known as epidemic parotitis, caused by mumps virus, is transmitted by respiratory droplets or direct contact with an infected person. The initial symptoms often include fever, muscle pain and headache, usually followed by painful swelling of one or both parotid salivary glands.

Two vaccine doses are required for long-term prevention; the first one is recommended between the age of 12 months and 15 months, and the second one is typically given between four years and six years.

The highly contagious Varicella, also known as chickenpox, is caused by a varicella zoster virus. The disease typically results in a characteristic skin rash that forms small, itchy blisters on the chest, back and face and then spreads to the rest of the body. The symptoms include fever, tiredness and headaches.

Children aged between 12 months and 15 months need to get one shot of varicella vaccine, and people over 13 who have never been vaccinated before they need to get two shots at least four weeks apart.


Though measles vaccination rates are high in the country, and single case spreads are not just those who are not immunized, but also infants who are too young for vaccination and even the elderly with weak immune systems.

Over the last few months, the country has seen many cases of measles especially among people in their 20s and 30s who have had a single measles vaccine shot, before the government changed its policy in favor of two shots in 1997. who received only one shot of the measles vaccine are required to get a second injection.

The disease can be avoided for life with just two shots of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine, one between 12 months and 15 months and another between four years and six years old.


Rotavirus is a highly contagious virus that causes diarrhea, and is the most common cause of diarrhea among infants and children worldwide. It results in over 215,000 deaths annually.

Initial symptoms are fever and vomiting, followed by three to eight days of watery diarrhea. Once an infection begins, there is no specific medicine to treat the virus, apart from measures preventing dehydration.

The vaccine is given by two or three times between six weeks and eight months of age. Two types of vaccines are available but cross-vaccination between the two is not allowed.

Hepatitis A

Hepatitis A virus, which is spread primarily when uninfected and unvaccinated person is a food or water that is contaminated with feces of an infected person. Unlike Hepatitis B and C, Hepatitis And Infection Does Not Cause Chronic Liver Disease And Is Rarely Fatal, But It Can Cause Debilitating Symptoms And Fulminant Hepatitis, Which Is Fatal.

In Korea, people in their 20s and 30s are specifically vulnerable because they have grown up with fewer opportunities to be exposed to the virus. Parents of unvaccinated children between 12 months and 23 months can consult doctors to get two shots of the vaccine with a six-month interval.

Adults under 40 are vaccinated without an antibody test, and those over 40 are recommended to get the vaccine after the test.

Shingles (herpes zoster)

Shingles, also known as herpes zoster, is caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same that causes chickenpox. Anyone who has recovered from chickenpox can develop the disease when their immunity gets weak and the virus vitalizes again. Pain is the most common symptom of the disease, causing burning or stabbing sensation with a blistering skin rash.

Only one shot to prevent the infection and 50 percent to 60 percent chance, and those over 60 are recommended to get the vaccine.


Children under two years old and over 65 have influenza vaccines, or flu shots annually, because different types of flu are spread every year. Especially people suffering from diabetes, high blood pressure or chronic respiratory disease must get the flu shots.

Two weeks after the vaccination, the adventure people are advised to get the shots between October and December.

Cervical cancer

Cervical cancer is caused by infections with specific types of human papillomavirus (HPV). It is a preventable disease to a large extent if a woman or a woman is given a vaccine before being exposed to the virus.

There are three types of vaccines and they are given three times within six months.

The government offers free vaccination for girls under 12 years old.


Pneumonia is an infection in one or both lungs, caused by bacteria, viruses or fungi. It causes inflammation in the alveoli, making it difficult to breathe.

The disease is fatal for elderly and infants who do not have strong immune systems. The Korean Society of Infectious Disease recommends over 65 or younger patients with chronic diseases and pneumococcal vaccine.

Currently there are two types of vaccines. While one shot with one type is enough for most people over 65, elderly people have cardiovascular disorder, chronic lung or liver diseases or diabetes are recommended to get both types.

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