South Korea Investigates 13 Deaths After Flu Shots

Henrietta Brewer
October 23, 2020

KDCA director Jeong Eun-kyeong said on Thursday that vaccines would continue to be supplied but the government might consider suspending some products that have identification numbers matching batches manufactured at the same plant on the same day if more people die using them.

GPs, NHS trusts and community pharmacies will be able to order stock from the government's centrally procured supply to complement their own flu vaccination stocks, ensuring as many people as possible are able to receive the vaccination this winter.

"It's not a logical approach to stop vaccinations just because there were deaths", said Kim Woo-joo, a professor of infectious medicine at Korea University Guro Hospital in Seoul.

South Korea is now implementing its national flu vaccination program, from which 8.36 million people have received shots.

"We have increased the number of people eligible for free flu jabs this year to reduce all avoidable risks and protect people from illness".

A 17-year-old boy who died on Friday was the first death noted by officials to follow receipt of the vaccine. Over a dozen others, most of advanced ages and with pre-existing conditions, died in similar fashion in locations around the country within days of receiving flu vaccines of different types from different manufacturers.

No causal link has been found yet between the flu shots and the fatalities so far, and investigations are under way to determine the exact cause of the deaths. Shinsung Pharm was in charge of delivering vaccines for about 5 million people covered by the government-run program. Jeong also ruled out the theory that the vaccines induced in some victims anaphylactic shock, an allergic reaction that may cause rashes or inflammations across the body within 30 minutes of contact.

Authorities have sought to reassure people as the number who have succumbed to death after being vaccinated against seasonal influenza mounted.

Health authorities have refused to suspend the campaign on Thursday, citing a lack of evidence to suggest direct links between the deaths and the vaccines.

They are hoping to prevent a mass flu outbreak as the country battles Covid. Post-mortem examinations are under way and will also test for COVID-19.

The program was previously halted for three weeks after it was revealed that five million doses had been transported at room temperature, rather than being refrigerated as required. This is the second time trust has been shaken in South Korea's vaccination programme.

Chung called on the KDCA to investigate quickly provide the public with an explanation for the deaths "so that people can receive vaccination without anxiety." .

Other reports by iNewsToday