Deaths in South Korea Following Flu Vaccination

As of October 26, CDC is aware of media reports of 59 deaths in South Korea following flu vaccination with flu vaccines distributed in South Korea. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported that most of these deaths involved people in their 70s and 80s. The KDCA has investigated 46 of these deaths and has reported it did not find evidence of a causal association with flu vaccination. Autopsies were performed on most of these 46 people, and all had serious health conditions that could account for the cause of death. Of note, among the total deaths reported so far, there has been no association with anaphylactic shock, a serious allergic reaction that can follow immunization, according to the KDCA. The KDCA has not suspended its flu vaccination program and is continuing its investigation. CDC will continue to monitor this situation closely.

Flu vaccines have been used safely in the United States for decades, with millions of doses given each flu season. Flu vaccines used in the United States are subject to rigorous safety standards and oversight by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). CDC reports that monitoring by the nation’s vaccine safety systems, such as the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) and the Vaccine Safety Datalink (VSD), has not detected any safety concerns for deaths following flu vaccinations in the United States at this time, despite about 150 million doses of flu vaccine having been distributed and reports of robust flu vaccine uptake so far this season.

CDC recommends annual flu vaccination for everyone 6 months and older. Getting a flu vaccine is more important than ever during 2020-2021 to protect people from flu, to help reduce the burden on the health care systems responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to save medical supplies for care of COVID-19 patients. Everyone 6 months and older should get an annual flu vaccine, and now is a good time to get vaccinated.