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Seoul City Provides “Baby Box” and Vaccination Subsidies to Single Parents

Single Mothers Benefit From New Scheme – But Not All

Through an initiative of the Women & Family Policy Bureau, Seoul City will become South Korea’s first municipality to offer single mothers in financial difficulties with 1 million KRW (approx. 800 EUR / 900 USD) worth of baby materials.

The “Baby Box” will contain the following items donated by manufacturers and individual funders:

  • A stroller
  • Feeding bottles
  • A baby sling
  • Clothes
  • Formula for infants
  • Sleeping vests

However, the supply is limited, and only 100 single mothers living in the Seoul Metropolitan Area with 80% of the median income will be able to benefit from the scheme.

A Wider Vaccination Coverage Expands Number of Free Vaccinations for Children from 17 to 23

However, the City Government will provide a subsidy worth 240,000 KRW (180 EUR / 220 USD) for infant vaccinations, to children living with single mothers and single fathers. The subsidy covers vaccinations outside the 17 mandatory vaccinations.

The 17 mandatory vaccinations for children (via Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)  are as follows. They’re already subsidized by the central government and free of cost to all children.

  1. Tuberculosis (BCG) – South Korea is the country with highest TB rates in the OECD
  2. Hepatitis B
  3. Diphtheria, Tetanus, Pertussis (DTaP)
  4. Tetanus / Diphteria (Td)
  5. Tetanus / Diphteria/Petussis (Tdap)
  6. Polio
  7. Tetanus / Diphteria/Petussis, Polio (DTaP-IPV)
  8. Tetanus / Diphteria/Petussis, Polio, Haemophilus influenzae type B (DTaP-IPV/Hib)
  9. Haemophilus influenzae type B (Hib)
  10. Pneumococcal vaccines (PCV, PPSV)
  11. Measles, Mumpus, Rubella (MMR)
  12. Chickenpox (Var)
  13. Hepatitis A
  14. Japanese B encephalitis (inactivated)
  15. Japanese B encephalitis (attenuated)
  16. HPV
  17. Influenza (flu)

2 vaccines are considered mandatory for those in high-risk groups:

  • Typhoid (ViCPS)
  • Hantavirus (HFRS)

Optional vaccinations are as follows:

  • Tuberculosis (BCG, Percutaneous)
  • Rotavirus
  • Meningococcus (MCV4)
  • Herpes Zoster – “Shingles” (HZZ)

From my understanding, the funds can be used for all 6 vaccines.

Back in the 1990s and Beyond…

When I was vaccinated (I was born in 1990), the regulations must have been different. Because I have had chickenpox – thanks to a German family who decided that their chickenpox-ridden child could not miss school (she was sent home immediately by the homeroom teacher, but it was already too late). Which later also gave me shingles (“Herpes Zoster”, which can caused by having had chickenpox before the age of 18). The HPV vaccine was also not considered mandatory, and today is administered to women only for free – men must pay the full price, and the vaccine is only advertised at OB-GYNs.

Tuberculosis remains rampant for an OECD country. Every year since 2014, I’ve had to take a TB test: In Seoul (to apply for a visa), in France, in Belgium, in the Netherlands. Poor housing regulations and lack of social housing drives South Korea’s poorest to live in mouldy attics or basements (which are let out at market prices).

My mother has a friend who has suffered from polio. In her generation (she is in her fifties), tuberculosis and polio were much more common than they are today.

I’ll write an article on TB and South Korea in a separate post in the upcoming weeks.

Seoul city single mother support


Announcement on Seoul Metropolitan Government's Women's Bureau FB page.
11 May 2018.

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