Nine die after getting flu shots, sparking vaccine fears

Oct 22, 2020, 09:30 am

print page small font big font

facebook share

tweet share

KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong/ Source: Yonhap

AsiaToday reporter Jang Ji-young 

Public anxiety is mounting over the safety of seasonal flu vaccines as nine people have died shortly after receiving the vaccine. Earlier this month, 615,000 doses of flu vaccines were found to have been exposed to room temperatures during shipping while white particles were found in 610,000 doses of flu vaccines. A direct relation between the reported deaths and vaccination has not yet been confirmed; however concern over the safety of the vaccines is growing considering the series of safety problems just days after the rollout of the national vaccine programme.

The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said Wednesday that at least nine suspected flu vaccine-related deaths have been reported so far. The agency said the epidemiological surveys and post-mortem examinations are still underway. “So far, 431 people showed abnormal responses after receiving flu shots, though no casual connection to flu shots has been confirmed,” KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong said in a media briefing.

However the agency said there was no direct link between flu shots and recent reported deaths. “We have discussed a total of 6 deaths reported by Wednesday morning, but considering no major severe adverse effects have been reported from a specific vaccine, we decided not to stop flu vaccinations,” Jeong said. 

“We cannot exclude the possibility of anaphylaxis shock for the two cases. For the remaining reported cases, we decided to confirm the cause-and-effect relationship by conducting additional epidemiological investigations including autopsies,” the agency said. Anaphylaxis shock is a serious allergic reaction after immunization.

“Among those who passed away, five of them were elderly people,” said Jeong. “On September 21, the World Health Organization (WHO) strongly recommended the elderly, pregnant women, people with certain chronic health conditions and medical professionals to get flu vaccination. We came to the conclusion that it is reasonable to continue the vaccination.”

The series of deaths after the vaccination made some people reluctant to get vaccinated. However, experts say it is important to get vaccinated in order to prevent a potential “twindemic” during winter, as influenza and COVID-19 have nearly identical symptoms. “People should get flu shots. We need to see the autopsy results first to find whether a flu vaccine leads to death,” said Kim Nam-joong, professor of Seoul National University Medical School. “We need to check the rate of deaths to the population that got flu shot,” the professor said. So far, 12.97 million people have received flu shots, with 8.36 million of them getting the shots for free under the state-run program. This indicates, the number of deaths is very low compared to the number of people who got vaccinated. 

Following the series of vaccine-related accidents, the pharmaceutical industry said the ‘lowest bidding system’, which focuses on price rather than quality, played a role in causing such incidents. “As more people are included in the list of free flu vaccinations this year compared to before, the discount rate was too high. Because it is 50 percent cheaper than the market price, many major vaccine companies failed in bidding,” an official from the pharmaceutical industry said.
#flu shot #vaccine #KDCA #death #safety 
Copyright by Asiatoday