SEOUL, Nov. 7 (Korea Bizwire) — The number of South Koreans who died this fall after getting seasonal flu shots has risen close to 100, health authorities said Saturday, though any correlation has not been confirmed between nearly 99 percent of the fatalities and the flu vaccinations.
The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the death toll among recipients of flu vaccinations, most of whom are elderly, rose to 97 as of midnight Friday, up three from two days earlier.
The rising number of deaths has stoked public anxiety over the safety of flu vaccines, but the KDCA said there have been no confirmed link between 96 deaths and their flu shots. Only one case is currently under investigation, it added.
The 97 fatalities are broken down into 41 people aged 80 or older, 40 people in their 70s, eight in their 60s and another eight under 60, the agency noted.
The health agency has repeatedly said it has 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 11.6 million South Koreans received a free state flu shot, accounting for 59.6 percent of the vaccination rate for about 19.6 million people, including teenagers and senior citizens.
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.