June 13, 2011 12:13
All new conscripts are to be vaccinated against spinal meningitis after a number of young men on military service died of the disease, the Defense Ministry said Sunday. But the vaccine named by the ministry will not be available until early next year, since no certified strain that suits the biological characteristics of Koreans exists.
The vaccine is made by a multinational pharmaceutical company, and the result of clinical trials completed last year are currently being analyzed.
One-third of those diagnosed with spinal meningitis are around 20, and the U.S. Forces Korea already vaccinates all its soldiers. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also classifies soldiers as a high-risk category.
The military has come under fire for trying to cover up the outbreak and doing nothing to stem it. The ministry admitted for the first time on Sunday that since 2007, eight soldiers have been diagnosed with spinal meningitis and four of them died.
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