October 22, 2020 — Health officials in South Korea are scrambling to investigate why 13 people died after getting flu shots last week.
One of the deaths was a 17-year old boy in Incheon who died 2 days after he was given a seasonal flu vaccine as part of a “free flu shot” program.
The other reported deaths were all elderly people. At least 8 of the victims were in their 70s or 80s and had underlying conditions.
All of the deaths were reported last week. Five deaths were reported on Wednesday, October 13. Four deaths were reported on Thursday.
South Korea recently recalled millions of flu vaccines, but officials said that none of the people who died received a recalled flu vaccine.
Two people who died may have suffered a serious allergic reaction known as anaphylactic shock, but officials gave no further details.
South Korea is in the midst of a massive flu-immunization program aimed at preventing a “twindemic” — an overload of flu patients during the coronavirus pandemic, which could overwhelm their hospitals.
The country has recently issued 2 recalls for flu vaccines due to safety concerns related to mishandling. At least 80 people have suffered abnormal reactions after being given the problematic flu shots.
On September 22, South Korea suspended their “free flu shot” program for 3 weeks after discovering that 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, were exposed to room temperatures in transport.
Then again, in early October, South Korea ordered Korea Vaccine Co. to recall 615,000 doses of flu vaccines after finding white particles floating in the vials. At least 17,812 people got the flu shots before they were recalled.