South Korean authorities are scrambling to maintain public trust in vaccines after the unexplained deaths of 13 people who received flu shots. Authorities say they are conducting a full investigation and they do not believe the vaccines were the cause of the deaths, reports the BBC. Officials say the fatalities include a 17-year-old boy who died two days after being vaccinated. The others were mostly in their 70s or 80s and had underlying health conditions. "We have not found a direct connection between these deaths and vaccines, or a relationship between the deaths and adverse effects reported after flu shots," Jung Eun-kyeong, commissioner of the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, said Wednesday, per the New York Times.
"We don't think that the situation calls for the suspending of the inoculation program," Jung said, though some lawmakers argue otherwise, saying doubts about the flu vaccine could increase resistance to a COVID vaccine later. Some 13 million South Koreans have received flu shots as part of a program to inoculate up to 30 million of the country's 51 million people to avoid major flu outbreaks during the coronavirus pandemic. The program was suspended for three weeks after authorities discovered last month that 5 million doses of the vaccine, which were supposed to be refrigerated at all times, had been at times transported at room temperature. Officials say the 13 people who died received vaccines from a number of producers. (Read more South Korea stories.)