It's urgent to investigate possible links between deaths and vaccines
Public anxiety over flu vaccines is running high as nine people have died after getting flu shots. While no direct links between the deaths and the vaccines have been confirmed yet, a growing number of people are calling hospitals and health centers to inquire about the safety of the vaccinations.
A 17-year-old high school student in Incheon died Friday, two days after receiving a free flu vaccine. The boy did not show any abnormal symptoms before or after getting the flu shot. A 78-year-old woman in Gochang, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, was found dead in her rural home Tuesday after getting a flu shot. On that day, a man in his 80s died in Daejeon hours after receiving a seasonal flu vaccine.
The vaccine the teenager had received was one of the flu shots provided under the state-run program by Shinsung Pharm Co., which created a big stir by exposing some vaccines to room temperature before shipping them to medical facilities. The vaccine was not from the batch that was supposed to be recalled. Following his death, the health authorities checked on 32 other people who received the vaccines with the same serial number at the same hospital the same day, but they showed no abnormal reactions.
The series of mishaps involving flu vaccinations is unprecedented in the country's flu immunization history, and public confidence in vaccines has dropped sharply. People's concerns are mounting as health experts warn of a so-called twindemic ― the possibility of a severe flu season coinciding with a surge in COVID-19 cases ― during winter. Utmost precautions are also needed as medical institutions began a free vaccination program for senior citizens aged 70 or older Monday.
What's most urgent is to quickly find out whether there were any links between the deaths and vaccines. That's because everyone wants to have an injection only after being relieved of anxiety.