Flu vaccine adverse events increase to new high in Taiwan

12/20/2020 07:32 PM
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CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only
CNA file photo for illustrative purpose only

Taipei, Dec. 20 (CNA) The number of people reported with adverse reactions after receiving influenza vaccine shots totaled 485 as of Dec. 9, the most ever recorded for a flu vaccination season in Taiwan but not enough for health authorities to see safety concerns.

From the launch of the government's annual flu vaccination program on Oct. 5 to Dec. 9, 5.83 million flu vaccines were administered, and 485 people had adverse reactions after taking the shot, or 8.3 per 100,000 recipients, according to the latest data on adverse vaccine reactions released by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

That was far higher than the 115 flu vaccine adverse events reported last year, the figures showed.

Of the 485 cases, 138 were categorized as severe adverse events, up from only 22 cases a year ago.

A total of 16 people have died after developing severe symptoms following a flu vaccination during the same period compared to none the previous year, according to the figures, but the FDA did not feel the numbers warranted concern.

After analyzing information related to the flu vaccines used in the 2020-2021 flu vaccination program -- including vaccine brands, lot numbers, and symptoms of adverse events -- the FDA said it saw no sign of safety concerns but it will continue to oversee the situation.

Among the 138 severe adverse events, three were three suspicious cases of acute myocarditis, seven of anaphylaxis (a serious allergic reaction), one of Stevens-Johnson syndrome, 11 of facial palsy, five of Guillain-Barre syndrome, and nine of epilepsy and convulsion.

There were also cases of febrile convulsion, spinal meningitis, encephalitis, and rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which damaged skeletal muscle breaks down rapidly.

Practicing pediatrician Chan Chien-chun (詹前俊) told CNA on Sunday that he found there to be more patients this year than in the past questioning whether the vaccine was responsible when seeking treatment for fevers, headaches or general body aches after getting a flu shot.

Most of the cases had nothing to do with flu vaccinations, Chan said, attributing the panic among flu vaccine recipients to the reports of more than 70 people in South Korea who have died after taking a flu vaccine shot this winter.

(By Chang Ming-hsuan and Elizabeth Hsu)


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