Anchor: Public fears are growing in South Korea over the safety of free flu shots as at least nine people have died within a day of receiving injections over the past week. Health officials say there is no need for excessive fear, but such advice appears to have little effect calming jitters during a time when more people have been considering flu vaccines as winter approaches and the pandemic continues.
Sam Len reports.
Report: Several people have been reported to have died in South Korea over the past week after receiving free flu vaccines, prompting health officials to take a closer look.
Jung Eun-kyeong, the chief of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) said so far authorities have not determined any connection with the flu vaccines and declined to halt free vaccinations until the exact causes of death can be determined.
[Jung Eun-kyeong, head of Korea Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (Korean/English dubbing)]
"After discussion, we have not been able to find a connection between the flu vaccines and deaths, while we do not think the situation calls for the cessation of the entire vaccination plan since severe side effects have not been reported in any particular brand of vaccine."
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency(KDCA) admitted recently that 480-thousand doses of free flu shots produced by Shinsung Pharmaceutical were not properly refrigerated, while white particles were discovered floating in 610-thousand commercially available doses. Those incidents have heightened jitters among many people in South Korea.
The people who have died so far include an 18-year-old high school student who was not suffering from any illnesses, while four others were senior citizens aged 60 or older.
Most documented deaths after vaccination around the world have been caused by severe allergic shock, also known as anaphylaxis, or a rare neurological disorder called Miller Fisher Syndrome, in which the body's immune system mistakenly attacks its peripheral nervous system.
But doctors say anaphylaxis typically occurs less than 30 minutes after a flu injection, while Miller Fisher Syndrome caused by vaccines was usually documented one to three weeks after vaccination.
The only recognized case of death caused by flu vaccination in Korea happened in 2009, with Miller Fisher Syndrome determined to be the cause.
Sam Len, KBS World Radio News.