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Number of South Korean Residents Died After Flu Vaccination Increases

At least 13 South Koreans have died after receiving flu vaccine shots in recent days, according to official state media reports and local media. This situation raises concerns about the safety of vaccines, even though authorities rule out the link between vaccine safety and human deaths after vaccines.

Health authorities on Wednesday said they had no plans to suspend a free flu vaccine injection program of about 19 million people after a preliminary investigation of the six fatalities found no direct link to the victims' deaths from the vaccine.

Number of South Korean Residents Died After Flu Vaccination Increases
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No toxic substances are found in vaccines. At least five of the six people investigated had an underlying illness, officials said.

Officials have reported nine people died after getting the flu shot. Yonhap news agency reported four other people died on Thursday.

The fatalities, including a boy aged 17 years and a man in his 70s, came just a week after the free flu vaccination program for teenagers and the elderly had restarted. The program was suspended for three weeks after it was found that about 5 million doses, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to medical facilities.

The flu vaccine in South Korea comes from a variety of sources. South Korean flu vaccine manufacturers include local producers GC Pharma, SK Bioscience, and Ilyang Pharmaceutical Co, along with French pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and Britain's GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). 

South Korean flu vaccine distributors, including LG Chem Ltd and Boryung Biopharma Co. Ltd., which is part of Boryung Pharm Co. Ltd.

GC Pharma, LG Chem, SK Bioscience, and Boryung declined to comment on any deaths after receiving flu shots. Meanwhile, Ilyang Pharmaceutical, Sanofi, and GSK could not be reached for comment.

South Korea has extended its seasonal vaccine program this year to ward off potential complications of the Covid-19 outbreak and reduce the burden on hospitals during winter. Officials say 8.3 million people have been inoculated with the free flu vaccine since the program resumed on October 13, and there have been reports of about 350 cases of adverse reactions to the vaccine.

The highest number of deaths related to seasonal flu vaccination was six in 2005, according to the Yonhap news agency. Officials say it is difficult to make comparisons with previous years because more people are taking the vaccine this year.

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