A septuagenarian was found dead inside her home in the southwestern province of North Jeolla on Tuesday after getting a flu vaccine shot at a neighborhood clinic the previous day, provincial officials said.
The 78-year-old resident of Gochang, about 300 kilometers south of Seoul, was discovered dead at her rural home by one of her neighbors around 7:35 a.m.
The woman reportedly received a seasonal flu vaccine shot from a neighborhood clinic at 8:30 a.m. on Monday, prompting local quarantine authorities to investigate any causality between her death and the vaccine shot.
The vaccine in question is said to be a Boryung Fluvaccine produced by local vaccine producer Boryung Biopharma.
The incident came after a teenage boy in Incheon, west of Seoul, died last Friday after being administered a seasonal flu vaccine two days earlier. The cause of the boy's death has not yet been determined, triggering public anxiety over the safety of flu vaccines. Last month, a local drug distributor came under fire for exposing some of its flu vaccine bottles to room temperatures during shipping.
A health official at the North Jeolla provincial government said any link between the Gochang resident's death and her flu vaccine shot has not been determined and a related investigation is still under way.
"It has been found that the deceased had suffered from several chronic diseases, including high blood pressure and diabetes, and took blood pressure medications before her death. It's too early to tell if the flu vaccine was a direct cause of her death," the official said.
"The case was reported to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, and other people who received the same vaccine product are under monitoring. No other cases of abnormal reactions from the same vaccine have been identified so far," the official said.
He said the flu vaccines given to the woman and the boy are different brands and that Boryung Fluvaccine was not among the products accidentally exposed to room temperatures.
Discussions about an autopsy are also under way with her bereaved family to determine the exact cause of her death, the official added.
Police ruled out the possibility of foul play, as no external injury was found on her body.
According to Gochang's community health center, 99 people received the same flu vaccine from the same clinic on the same day as the deceased woman and 94 of them have not shown any abnormal reactions.
"Public officials called all of the 99 vaccine recipients and 94 of them said they have not experienced any abnormal reactions or health problems. The five others didn't answer the phone or live in other cities and provinces and the officials are now trying to check their health as soon as possible," the health center said. (Yonhap)