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2 flu vaccines linked to deaths in South Korea should be ‘temporarily ceased’: MOH

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued an advisory to healthcare providers and medical practitioners to temporarily cease the use of two influenza vaccines linked to nine deaths in South Korea.

2 flu vaccines linked to deaths in South Korea should be ‘temporarily ceased’: MOH

A man gets an influenza vaccine at a hospital in Seoul, South Korea, on Oct 21, 2020.

SINGAPORE — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has issued an advisory to healthcare providers and medical practitioners to temporarily cease the use of two influenza vaccines linked to nine deaths in South Korea.

Based on information from the South Korean health authorities, seven brands of influenza vaccines were administered to the individuals who died, and two of these brands are available in Singapore, MOH said on Sunday (Oct 25).

They are SKYCellflu Quadrivalent, manufactured by SK Bioscience and locally distributed by AJ Biologics, and VaxigripTetra, manufactured by Sanofi Pasteur and locally distributed by Sanofi Aventis.

MOH has informed healthcare providers and medical practitioners to temporarily stop the use of these two vaccines while the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) assesses the implications of the reported deaths in South Korea.

While there have been no reported deaths associated with influenza vaccination in Singapore to date, MOH and the HSA are monitoring the situation closely, the ministry said.

“HSA is in touch with the South Korean authorities for further information as they investigate to determine if the deaths are related to influenza vaccinations.”

Healthcare providers and medical practitioners may continue to use the two other influenza vaccines that have been brought into Singapore for the Northern Hemisphere 2020/21 influenza season.

Meanwhile, persons recommended to receive the influenza vaccination — including those recommended under the National Childhood Immunisation Schedule and National Adult Immunisation Schedule — may continue to receive their influenza vaccination using other brands.

VACCINES ‘GENERALLY SAFE’ BUT CAN CAUSE SIDE EFFECTS

MOH said that influenza vaccination provides protection against seasonal influenza viruses, and is effective in reducing the risk of complications and deaths.

“This is especially so for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the young, pregnant women and those with certain pre-existing medical conditions.”

Influenza vaccination is also generally safe, but like any medication, it can cause side effects, including soreness and redness at the injection site, fever, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and nausea.

“These side effects are generally mild and resolve on their own,” said MOH.

“In rare instances, a person may experience high fever or severe allergic reactions such as breathing difficulty, wheezing and swelling around the eyes, and immediate medical attention should be sought.”

MOH gave the assurance that vaccines approved for use in Singapore have been evaluated by HSA to ensure that they meet the required international standards of quality, safety and efficacy.

HSA monitors the safety of vaccines by drawing on a network of local healthcare professionals and international regulatory counterparts to pick up adverse events suspected to be associated with the vaccines, MOH said.

“MOH and HSA will continue to monitor the situation closely for any concerns related to influenza vaccination and keep members of the public updated on new developments.”

Related topics

influenza South Korea vaccine MOH death

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