South Korea's public health agency said Saturday that a total of 83 people, most of whom are elderly, died after being administered with a seasonal flu vaccine.
The deaths have stoked public anxiety over the safety of flu vaccines, but the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) said the deaths of 72 people have very limited relation with the flu shots. Another 11 cases are currently under investigation.
Of the total, 37 people are in their 70s, followed by 34 people aged 80 or older, eight under 60 and four in their 60s, KDCA said.
The health authorities have repeatedly said they have 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 11.5 million South Koreans received a free state flu shot, accounting for 60.9 percent of the vaccination rate for about 19 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. (Yonhap)