Concerned about the potential for simultaneous spread of the corona virus and influenza, the country’s government has launched a flu vaccination campaign.
Thirty-six people, including a 17-year-old boy, have died from the flu vaccine since last Friday. The South Korean Institute for Disease Control and Prevention (KDCA) says the average age of the dead is 74.
As of Friday, more than 14 million people had been vaccinated against the flu, of which 9.4 million were children, the elderly and pregnant women, according to the KDCA.
According to Professor Ki Moran of the National Cancer Center of South Korea, the flu vaccine is known to cause severe side effects in one in 10 million people.
In 2019, 227,000 people over the age of 65 died in South Korea, he added. Looking ahead to the latest statistics, this is an average of 621 deaths per day.
The KDCA decided on Friday not to withhold flu vaccines. The KDCA report said the vaccine expert team will hold a meeting on Saturday morning to review additional data.
Rare side effects
Friday’s meeting of the KTCA came after increased scrutiny from experts and politicians.
On Friday, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Tsai-kyun called for a full investigation into the deaths, citing public concern, the health ministry said in a statement. He did not call for a halt to the vaccination campaign.
The Korean Medical Association, a coalition of 130,000 doctors, has urged the government to suspend the vaccination program for a week until the cause of death is determined.
In a statement, the Korean Vaccine Association stressed the importance of the flu vaccine, especially “for children, the elderly and patients with chronic diseases and low immunity.” The organization cites concerns about the spread of the flu during Govt-19 infections.
Experts around the world are preparing for the flu season amid the epidemic. In an interview with AMA’s Jama network, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said, “This is an important year for us to try to get the flu off the table as much as possible.”
One reason is to reduce the cold on public health services and hospitals, which cause the winter wave. Experts say it is possible to get covid-19 and flu at the same time – and because the symptoms of the flu are similar to those of covid-19, a corona virus diagnosis cannot be ruled out without a test. That means a case of the flu can cause significant disruption to work and school.
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