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ROK to consider sending COVID-19 booster shots to troops dispatched overseas

Armed services had close discussion on sending COVID-19 vaccines to Cheonghae Unit, Dongmyung Unit, and Hanbit Unit
Military analyzed that the Akh Unit in UAE will be able to get vaccines from local hospitals
Military is striving to provide stable third COVID-19 vaccine dose and contain the influx of COVID-19
Chiefs of the Navy and Marine Corps presided over urgent meeting on quarantine readiness posture

The military has a plan to send COVID-19 vaccines directly to local areas to provide COVID-19 booster shots for troops dispatched overseas.

In keeping with the introduction of a third COVID-19 vaccine dose for all soldiers, a plan has been made for the safety of troops dispatched overseas.

ROK to consider sending COVID-19 booster shots to

On December 17, the Ministry of National Defense said in a statement: “We are having close consultations with Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, and the governments of the countries where dispatched troops are stationed, about sending vaccines directly to three units dispatched overseas, which are Cheonghae Unit (Gulf of Aden), Dongmyung Unit (Lebanon), and Hanbit Unit (South Sudan), for their third COVID-19 vaccine dose.” The ministry has taken into consideration that those dispatched units do not have a medical facility for vaccination in the area near the base camp, as well as the fact that it is not easy to rotate troops earlier due to mission issues.

Regarding the Cheonghae Unit, the ministry is also considering providing vaccinations in the local area in cooperation with the Omani authorities, a port of call, rather than sending vaccines. As the situation can change depending on the supply and demand of vaccines in Oman, however, sending vaccines to the unit is considered to be the better option. Regarding the Dongmyung Unit, the ministry has a plan to send vaccines only to the personnel staying in the local area, as troop rotation will happen in a short time.

Apart from the three units, the military analyzed that the Akh Unit dispatched to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) will be able to get booster shots from the local hospitals, as the unit has some hospitals with a vaccination center near its base camp, and it is said that people who hold a residence VISA in the UAE can receive a vaccine. Despite this, the ministry is  considering sending vaccines to the Akh Unit, just in case.

During his visit to the COVID-19 vaccination center in the Air Force 15th Special Missions Wing (15th Wing) on December 16, Suh said that “this third COVID-19 vaccine dose is the most effective measure to contain the spread of COVID-19,” stressing the “need to quickly start booster shots to help the people and soldiers return to a peaceful normal life.” Suh also asked the vaccinated soldiers to “keep following the government’s strengthened quarantine guidelines, as well as the basic quarantine guidelines, after vaccination,” stressing the “importance of ensuring voluntary consent and the safety of individual soldiers in the vaccination process.”

Following this, each armed service has been striving to prevent the influx of COVID-19 to the military, while working on the stable administration of the third COVID-19 vaccine.

Presided over by Navy Chief of Staff Kim Jeong-soo, the Navy held an urgent meeting to review the COVID-19 quarantine readiness posture on December 17. At the meeting, the main commanders and chief officers from the Navy and Marine Corps vowed to apply thorough quarantine management, sharing a recognition of the seriousness of the COVID-19 situation. 

“All soldiers and civilian employees of the Navy and Marine Corps should focus their efforts on supporting the pan-governmental effort to contain the spread of COVID-19. Significantly, we should take special care of the dispatched troops, as well as our core military strength, our vessels and aircrafts,” Kim said in the meeting, describing the current situation gravely as a ‘crisis on another level.’

 By Chae-Mu, Im < >

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