Five South Korean people died after they took the flu shots in the past week, said the authorities. This unexpected incident has raised concerns over the vaccine's safety just as the seasonal vaccination program is expanded due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
As per the local authorities, there was no reason to believe that the deaths were linked to inoculation. However, an investigation including the autopsy is underway. The vice health minister Kim Gang-lip said that "it makes it hard for us to put out a categorical statement."
The victims of this incident include a 17-year-old boy and a man in his 70s. The boy died on Friday, October 16, which was the first death noticed by the officials. He died two days after getting the jab of the flu vaccine in Incheon, near the capital Seoul.
The unnamed elderly adult, who had Parkinson's disease and arrhythmia (Improper beating of the heart) was the most recent case. He died on Wednesday, October 21 in Daegu, just a day after receiving the vaccine. As per the local officials, the man had been receiving the flu vaccines since 2015 but he never showed any adverse reaction.
The flu vaccines in South Korea are supplied by different drug makers, including LG Chem Ltd and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd. An official from Boryung said that the company is aware of the recently reported deaths, while LG Chem said it would follow the government's advice.
The Flu Shot Program
As many experts have explained the importance of taking the flu shots this pandemic year, South Korean officials last month announced that they have decided to produce 20 percent more flu vaccines in 2020 than the previous year. They hope to vaccinate 30 million South Korean people in a bid to prevent the country's health system from being overloaded by patients with flu as well as COVID-19.
Authorities halted the free vaccination program for three weeks after officials found that around five million doses of the flu shot, which needed to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature during the transportation to a medical facility. The official said that over eight million people have been vaccinated with the free flu shot since it resumed on Tuesday, October 13, with more than 300 cases of adverse reactions reported.
Needless to say, this year when the healthcare organizations all around the world have been struggling to deal with the Coronavirus pandemic, boosting the public trust in vaccines has become a major global challenge.
As many countries rush to approve Coronavirus vaccines before the completion of the safety and efficacy studies, according to a poll in South Korea, 62 percent of people in Gyeonggi province, would deny COVID-19 vaccines, even if one gets the approval, until the safety is ensured.