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Defense minister orders “thorough preparations be made to provide third dose of

COVID-19 vaccine to soldiers deployed overseas”
Minister Suh Wook presides over meeting of top commanders of all armed services

Ministry to provide adverse event response team for soldiers deployed overseas (at the same level as soldiers in the country)
Participants shared assessment that the increase in Omicron variant cases is severe
Suh stressed the need to re-check the medical and quarantine system to prepare for the situation in which Omicron is the dominant strain

Defense minister orders “thorough preparations be

Soldiers deployed overseas will receive third doses of COVID-19 vaccines at the same level of the response system as soldiers in the country. Significantly, the ministry will manage an adverse event response team for the safety of soldiers. Soldiers that experience serious adverse events after vaccination will be transported to and treated in hospitals neighboring the military base.

The Ministry of National Defense made this statement at the 16th meeting of top commanders of all armed services, which was presided over by Minister Suh Wook via video link on the afternoon of January 10, saying that they were in the middle of checking advance preparations for the administration of third doses of vaccines for soldiers deployed overseas.

Regarding the third dose vaccination for soldiers deployed overseas, it is planned that vaccines will be transported from Korea to the local area for Hanbit Unit (South Sudan) and Dongmyung Unit (Lebanon), while local vaccines will be administered to Cheonghae Unit (waters of the Gulf of Aden) and Akh Unit (Arab Emirates) by working in cooperation with the government of the country of residence. Soldiers of the Akh Unit will receive vaccines in the local private hospital after the issuance of a resident visa and ID. It is known that all units will be receiving the Pfizer vaccine. The ministry has a plan to conduct vaccination of its overseas soldiers at the same level as vaccination in the country, including prior mock drills and an adverse event response system, in consideration of mission performance of each unit. 

Suh ordered the commanders to “make full preparations so that soldiers deployed overseas can receive booster shots according to plan," and to “be committed to safe vaccination to thoroughly prepare against the incidence of adverse events.”

At the meeting, the participants also discussed the need to re-check the military quarantine response system to contain the spread of COVID-19. Suh emphasized special attention from commanders at all levels, including a re-check of the medical and quarantine system related to COVID-19, maintaining a firm combat readiness posture. 

“The government’s full efforts, including special quarantine measures, third doses of vaccines and the expansion of hospital beds, have led to the recent decrease in the number of cases and the strengthening of medical response capabilities,” Suh said, assessing that “the quarantine situation is more stringent than ever before, as the number of Omicron variant cases both in and outside the military is increasing steadily.”

Suh stressed the need for “a re-check of the military medical and quarantine system, including a rapid and efficient epidemiological survey, the reinforcement of testing capability, and ensuring quarantine facilities, to prepare for the situation in which Omicron is the dominant COVID strain across the country, while making full efforts to maintain a firm combat readiness posture.”

Suh also asked the commanders to “make full preparations for the maintenance of a combined defense posture amid the incidence of many COVID-19 cases in the US Forces in Korea,” stressing that “we should pay special attention to monitoring the health status of and providing treatment for confirmed cases and quarantined individuals in the military, as these may soar in the future.”

Meanwhile, our military has been using the Armed Forces Capital Hospital, Goyang Hospital, Daejeon Hospital, and Pocheon Hospital as state-designated hospitals for infectious diseases, concentrating its ability in order to provide a pan-governmental response to COVID-19. These four military hospitals have a total of 292 beds allocated to the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 confirmed cases. As of January 10, more than ten thousand soldiers have volunteered to provide military aid to civilian authorities related to COVID-19.

By Chae-Mu, Im < >

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