October 22, 2020 12:20
Fear is spreading around Korea as 17 people died after free flu vaccinations. Seven more deaths were reported nationwide on Wednesday alone. One of them died just two-and-a-half hours after the flu shot. Seven more deaths were reported on Thursday morning and the number keeps rising.
Most of them were over 70 but the first, who died on Oct. 17, was a teenager. The vaccines they received are no longer limited to one manufacturer. The victims were given vaccines manufactured by Boryeong, GC Pharma, Korea Vaccine and SK Bioscience.
One 53-year-old woman died after being given a flu vaccine she paid for herself, but the rest died after free vaccinations. So far this year, 8.3 million people have been given free flu vaccinations, 3 million of them over 70.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency said it is investigating the causes but said only one could have been due to anaphylactic shock. The agency also plans to conduct posthumous coronavirus tests to see if there is a connection.
Some experts are calling for vaccinations to be put on hold until the autopsy results come out. "Most of the dead were healthy people," one preventive medicine expert said. "We need to stop free vaccinations until the exact cause is revealed."
But KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong told reporters, "Considering no major severe adverse effects have been reported from one specific vaccine, we decided not to stop the flu vaccinations."
As of Tuesday, 431 people reported side effects to the flu shots.
The government says there is only a small chance that the deaths are linked to the compromised batches. All 480,000 doses supplied by Shinsung Pharm that were exposed to room temperature were taken back after Oct. 13, when the free vaccinations started nationwide, and the dead had received their flu shots after that date.
Meanwhile, Korea reported 121 new coronavirus cases as of Thursday morning, the first triple-digit increase in about a week.
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