Chile to offer annual Covid vax to groups at risk

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Santiago, Sep 23 (IANS): Chile will offer an annual vaccine against Covid-19 starting from October onwards to groups of people at risk, Health Minister Ximena Aguilera said.

The vaccine will be available much like the annual flu shot, Xinhua news agency quoted the Minister as saying.

“An annual vaccine aimed at vulnerable groups is being incorporated in a manner similar to the influenza vaccination program and is entering the National Immunization Program”.

“We are not ruling out that in the future there will be greater availability for the rest of the population to be vaccinated voluntarily”, she said, adding that a bivalent vaccine will be used in the annual inoculation plan against the virus.

Chile considers the population at risk to be anyone over 60 years of age, healthcare workers, people with chronic diseases or weakened immune systems, and the obese, said Aguilera.

According to the Health Ministry, the bivalent vaccine has in its formulation the possibility of protecting against the Omicron variant of the virus.

As of October 1, Chile will lift the mandatory use of face masks and occupancy restrictions on public and private venues, as well as scrap its Covid passport, all measures put in place more than two years ago to prevent the spread of the virus.

The South American country has so far logged 4,594,519 confirmed cases of Covid-19 with 60,974 deaths since the outbreak was first reported in early 2020.

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