The number of South Koreans who have died after flu shots has increased to 48, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) stated yesterday, adding that the vaccines will further reduce the likelihood of simultaneous epidemics.
The health authorities said they had not found a direct link between the deaths and the vaccinations. They plan to continue the government’s vaccination program to try to avoid having to fight both the flu and coronavirus next winter.
“After reviewing the deaths so far, it is not the right time to suspend a flu vaccination program because vaccination is very important this year, considering … the Covid-19 outbreaks,” KDCA director Jeong Eun-kyung said at a briefing.
Dr. Jeong said the review showed no direct link between the flu vaccines and the 26 deaths investigated.
About 20 initial autopsy results from the police and the National Forensic Service showed that 13 people died of cardiovascular, cerebrovascular and other diseases not caused by the vaccination.
The number of deaths among those who were vaccinated increased by 12 cases from one day earlier to 48 yesterday.
The rising death toll has prompted some doctors and politicians to call for a halt to the government’s campaign to vaccinate about 30 million of the country’s 54 million people.
Dr. Jeong urged people to be vaccinated against influenza, and issued precautions to be taken before vaccination, such as drinking enough water and informing health workers of any underlying medical conditions.
She also advised people to wait 15-30 minutes before leaving the clinic where they will receive their vaccine.
“If possible, try to get your flu vaccination when it is warm, as there are concerns that low temperatures could affect cardiovascular or cerebrovascular disease,” she said.
According to KDCA, 9.4 million people had been vaccinated by Friday under the program, which began last month, with 1,154 cases of adverse reactions.
South Korea reported 77 new cases of coronavirus by Friday at midnight, bringing the total number of infections to 25,775, with 457 deaths.