107 suspected flu shot deaths reported in South Korea

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South Korea’s health agency said Thursday that a total of 107 people, most of whom were elderly, died after receiving seasonal flu vaccines.

The deaths had stoked public anxiety over the safety of such vaccines, but the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said 106 of those deaths have very limited relation with the flu shots. The remaining case is under investigation, South Korean News Agency (Yonhap) reported.

Of the total, 48 people were aged over 80, followed by 40 in their 70s, 10 under 60 and nine in their 60s, the KDCA said.

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The health authorities have repeatedly said they have found no direct link between flu shots and deaths, urging people to get flu vaccinations before the onset of winter amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Public anxiety has heightened over the safety of flu vaccines after some vaccine bottles — part of the country’s free inoculation program — were exposed to room temperature during distribution. The authorities, however, said there was no safety issue.

So far, more than 13.05 million South Koreans have received free state flu shots, out of about 19 million people, or 66.7 percent, the KDCA said.

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Generally, flu season arrives between end-November and December. Considering that flu vaccines cause antibodies to develop in the body about two weeks after vaccination, experts recommend people get flu shots by mid-November.

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