(HBO) - Republic of Korea (ROK) suspended free flu shots on Tuesday (September 22) after reports of problems in storing the vaccinations during transportation, disrupting plans to pre-emptively ease the burden on a healthcare system already strained by coronavirus outbreaks.


People wearing masks walk around Myong-dong street in Seoul, Republic of Korea, 24 August 2020. (Photo: EFE/EPA)

The country, which has seen a spike in COVID-19 cases since August, planned to procure 20% more flu vaccines for the winter than the previous year to jab 30 million people. It had planned to start free inoculation on Tuesday for some 19 million eligible people.

The head of the ROK's disease prevention agency said on Tuesday that some doses of the vaccine, which need to be refrigerated, had been exposed to room temperature while being transported to a medical facility.

It was not immediately known how many doses were affected, and authorities are looking into the entire batch of five million doses that were scheduled for distribution on Tuesday.

"I want to make it clear that the problem is not with the manufacturer's vaccine production, rather it is an issue raised about the refrigerated temperature maintenance in the distribution process," Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) chief Jeong Eun-kyeong told reporters.

So far 118,000 have been inoculated with flu shots and no adverse affects were reported from the vaccination, said Jeong.

Some Asian countries have rolled out early and more aggressive influenza vaccination programmes this year to reduce the potential of people contracting the flu and COVID-19 simultaneously, which would cripple the load on healthcare.

KDCA reported 61 new coronavirus cases as of midnight Monday, taking the national tally to 23,106 infections with 388 deaths.

Source: Reuters

Related Topics


Thai cabinet approves borrowing of US$47.4 bln from ADB to revive economy

The Thai cabinet agreed on Tuesday to borrow THAB1.47 trillion (US$47.4 billion) from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to revive the country's economy ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Iran and Iraq commit to boosting border cooperation and trade

Iran and Iraq on September 26 pledged to improve border cooperation and boost trade between the two neighbours that has been hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

World News in Brief: September 27

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi pledged at the United Nations on Saturday (September 26) that his country's vaccine production capacity would be made available globally to fight the COVID-19 crisis.

Malaysian PM calls for COVID-19 vaccine to be universally accessible in UN speech

Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has called for the world to ensure that once a COVID-19 vaccine is available, it should be available to all nations.

World News in Brief: September 8

World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said on Monday (September 7) the world must be better prepared for the next pandemic, as he called on countries to invest in public health. More than 27.19 million people have been reported to be infected by the novel coronavirus globally and 888,326 have died, according to a Reuters tally, since the first cases were identified in China in December 2019.

Britain to fund expansion of rapid COVID-19 test trials

Britain is putting GBP500 million (US$666 million) into trials of rapid COVID-19 tests and into population-testing for the disease, the health ministry said on Thursday (September 3).