The country’s public health agency, the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA), announced on Saturday that 83 people in total have died after participating in a free vaccination initiative billed as a way to offset potential complications from COVID-19.
Most of the deaths involved the elderly, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing figures provided by the KDCA. Of the total number of fatalities, 37 people were in their 70s, followed by 34 people aged 80 or older. Four deaths involved people in their 60s, while eight individuals who passed away were under 60.
Health officials have repeatedly insisted that there is no evidence pointing to a direct link between the flu shots and the deaths. However, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun called for an investigation into potential safety issues last week, when the number of people who died shortly after receiving flu shots reached 30. Earlier, the Korean Medical Association had called on Seoul to halt the program pending a full review.
Concerns about the vaccination drive first emerged after it was revealed that some of the doses were exposed to room temperature while being administered to the public. However, the vaccines in question have not been linked to any of the deaths.
To date, more than 11.5 million South Koreans have received a free jab under the program.