All babies in South Korea can receive vaccines for free from their local pediatrician. Beginning in 20202, this service was suspended at public health centers. However, this service has now completely resumed. So, this is how to get vaccines for children in South Korea so that they can have a happy and healthy childhood.
Standard vaccines that babies and young children in South Korea normally receive are the following:
This vaccine protects against tuberculosis and leprosy. In particular, it is important to protect your children against tuberculosis in South Korea. According to the KCDC, South Korea has the highest rate of tuberculosis out of OECD countries, and each year around 2,200 people die from the disease each year.
Here in Korea, the free BCG vaccine usually leaves you a small round scar. However, if you don’t want the scar, there is an alternative vaccine that costs 90,000-100,000 won depending on your clinic. Also, some clinics will automatically do the one that is not free. That happened to me, and I was shocked when I got charged 90,000 won when I thought it would be free.
The scar from the free version of the vaccine looks like this. It normally stays as a scar permanently.
This is what the injection site looks like for the vaccine you need to pay for. Initially, it looks worse and is often more painful. However, it normally does not cause permanent scarring.
The Rotavirus vaccine normally requires 2 or 3 rounds of vaccination. This vaccine does not require an injection and is normally given as a squirt of liquid in the mouth. It is given at 2, 4, and 6 months after birth.
Rotavirus is a common cause of diarrhea among young children. It was very common in South Korea and in the past, being one of the top causes of childhood deaths.
This is a single-dose vaccine that is given through a shot.
Streptococcus Pneumoniae is the bacteria that is responsible for strep throat, meningitis, pneumonia, bronchitis, rhinitis, and many other very bad and deadly diseases. Therefore, I think that this is a necessary vaccine for protecting your child.
This vaccine is given through a shot as a single dose.
In western countries, this vaccine is normally given twice, once as a pre-teen and once in the late teens. This is because it is spread through saliva, hence, kissing. However, in South Korea, it is more common for the disease to spread earlier in life because of the culture around sharing food.
I got the vaccines for my child at my local family health center. At the time, children with a foreign parent couldn’t get free vaccines. This clinic was the cheapest option I could find, being around half-price compared to other locations. However, as of January 18, 2022 vaccinations are free for all children in South Korea, regardless of their, or their parents’ nationality.
인구보건복지협회 서울지회 가족보건의원 Address: 62 Gingorang-Ro 13 Gil, Gwangjin-Gu, Seoul Korean address: 서울 광진구 긴고랑로13길 62 Operating Hours: 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
To find a clinic to get your child vaccinated, you can search ‘보건소’ or ‘가족보건의원’ in Kakao or Naver Maps.
In order to get your child’s vaccinations for free, you must bring the parent’s passports and baby registration with you to your local public health center (보건소). There you can get a management number first (관리번호). No matter where your child is vaccinated, you will need this number for vaccination records.
The management number allows children to be vaccinated at a general hospital or pediatrics office ( 소아청소년과의원 ). Once you register your management number you can receive guidance on the timing of vaccination that should be conducted according to age group.
Also, you do not need to worry about your, or your child’s legal status. As long as you at least have a passport, it is okay to go even if your visa has expired. They will not check your visa status.
There is one hospital in Seoul that specializes in assisting undocumented immigrants. This center can be used by those who entered the country illegally, refugees, foreign workers, and multicultural families. They do not require you to present any documents related to your legal status in Korea.
Additionally, it is a charitable hospital, with patients only having to pay 10% of the total fees if needed. You and your children can get vaccinated here without much of a financial burden, and without risking deportation.
National Medical Center (국립중앙의료원) Address: 245 Eulji-ro, Jung-gu, Seoul Korean address: 서울 중구 을지로 245 국립중앙의료원 Operating Hours: 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM Website: https://www.nmc.or.kr
If you need help covering medical expenses related to pregnancy and infancy, you can apply for a Korean government pregnancy voucher. It is available to all women who are legal residents and give birth in South Korea. Click Here to learn more.