SANTIAGO, Sept. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chile will offer the population at risk an annual vaccine against COVID-19 starting in October, Chilean Health Minister Ximena Aguilera said Thursday.
The vaccine will be available much like the annual flu shot, she said.
"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," the official said in an interview with local radio Cooperativa.
"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 COVID-19.
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 Chilean Health Ministry, the bivalent vaccine has in its formulation the possibility of protecting against the Omicron variant of the virus.
As of Oct. 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 logged 4,594,519 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and a death toll of 60,974 from the disease since the onset of the outbreak.