At least 13 South Koreans have died after receiving flu vaccine shots in recent days, according to official state media and local media reports.
This situation raises concerns about the safety of vaccines, even though the authorities rule out the link between vaccine safety and citizen deaths after vaccines.
Health authorities on Wednesday said they had no plans to suspend the free flu vaccine injection program for about 19 million people, after a preliminary investigation of the six fatalities found no direct link to the victims’ deaths from the vaccine.
No toxic substances were found in the vaccine, and at least five of the six people investigated had an underlying condition for their deaths, officials said.
Officials have reported nine people died after being vaccinated against the flu, and Yonhap news agency reported another four died on Thursday.
Program Suspended for Three Weeks
The fatalities, including a boy aged 17 years and a man in his 70s, came just a week after the free flu vaccination program for teenagers and the elderly had restarted.
The program was suspended for three weeks after it was found that about 5 million doses, which need to be stored in the refrigerator. Has been exposed to room temperature when transported to a medical facility.
The flu vaccine in South Korea comes from a variety of sources. South Korean flu vaccine manufacturers include local producers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co. Together with French pharmaceutical company Sanofi and Glaxosmithkline from England.
South Korean flu vaccine distributors include LG Chem Ltd and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., which is part of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd.
GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience and Boryung declined to comment about any deaths after receiving flu shots. Meanwhile, Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi and GSK could not be reached for comment.
South Korea has extended its seasonal vaccine program this year. To ward off potential complications of the COVID-19 outbreak and reduce the burden on hospitals during winter.
Officials say 8.3 million people have been inoculated with the free flu vaccine since the program resumed on October 13. There are reports of about 350 cases of adverse reactions due to vaccines.
The highest number of deaths related to seasonal flu vaccination was six in 2005, according to Yonhap news agency.
Officials say it is difficult to make comparisons with previous years because more people are taking the vaccine this year. (int1)