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Side effects of flu vaccine warned of

A lawmaker Friday warned of the side effects of the swine flu vaccine, saying more than 2,000 suspected cases have been reported to health authorities.

According to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 2,593 side-effect cases were reported here, Rep. Shim Jae-cheol of the ruling Grand National Party said.

The cases included light symptoms such as fevers, headaches and allergic responses as well as 10 deaths, he said.

The KCDC reviewed some 180 cases seeking compensation and covered the treatment costs for 88 cases, nearly half of the total.

However, no compensation was offered to those who died, as the disease control agency could not find any medical correlation to the flu shots.

“There is a possibility of the flu shots causing side effects in some individuals. Rather than pushing to consume the vaccines in stock, the government needs to be more cautious in giving the flu shots,” Shim said.

Health authorities, however, claimed that the side effects of the swine flu vaccine are found in other seasonal flu shots as well, urging the public not to overreact.

In preparation for a new flu outbreak in the winter, the government plans to start this year’s vaccinations from September, officials said.

The government recommended that infants under 59 months, pregnant women, senior citizens and people with chronic diseases receive the flu shots that will be offered free of charge by May next year.

Even though the World Health Organization declared earlier this month that the flu pandemic is over, health officials advised citizens, especially travelers to India, New Zealand and Thailand, to take extra care in personal hygiene.

The WHO said on Aug. 10 that the 2009-10 H1N1 influenza pandemic ended officially.

“The new H1N1 influenza has largely run its course,” WHO Director-General Margaret Chan said. “We are now moving into the post-pandemic period.”

Some regions may see localized outbreaks of the flu virus, she noted, but overall activity is expected to be about normal for the season.

More than 214 countries worldwide have reported laboratory-confirmed cases of the virus, including over 18,449 deaths, as of Aug. 1.

In Korea, some 252 death cases have been confirmed, with half of them aged over 65.

By Lee Ji-yoon (
Korea Herald daum