Influenza is a virus most popularly known as the Spanish flu that caused the death of millions of people from the year 1918 to 1920. This virus is making a few headlines once more in South Korea for a new reason. It has been found that over 1300 patients were administered vaccine shots for influenza which have now turned out to have been potentially defective shots.
Commonly known as ‘the flu’, influenza is a infectious disease caused by the influenza virus. This virus belongs to the Orthomyxoviridae family of viruses. There are four types of influenza virus: Type A, Type B, Type C and Type D but only the first three is said to infect humans.
Transmission occurs when an infected person sneezes or coughs as thousands of the virus particle can spread to those close by. It could be by direct transmission, when the infected person sneezes directly into a healthy person’s eyes, nose or mouth. Airborne transmission, where an infected person sneezes into the air and a healthy person inhales aerosols containing the infectious particle is also another method. Other methods of acquiring this infection is by contact with contaminated surfaces that was previously handled by the infected individual. Direct handshakes with an active carrier is one of the major ways this disease can be transmitted.
Symptoms include sore throat, fever, chills, cough, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat, ear ache, muscle pains, hoarseness of the voice, fatigue, headache, rashes, abdominal pain, diarrhea and vomiting. Diagnosis is usually carried out by using nose or mouth swabs and collecting sputum but the most definitive diagnosis is the Polymerase Chain Reaction test. World Health Organisation recommends frequent washing of hands, using of masks and yearly vaccinations to prevent spread.
In a statement by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency, about 1362 persons were said to have received this vaccine. The vaccine in question is said to be potentially defective as it is not supposed to be administered under room temperature. This is because under conditions similar to, or in actual room temperature, the potency of the vaccine could be reduced. It could also increase the risk of the injected individual being susceptible to diseases that would have otherwise being vaccine preventable.
A nursing home in the city of Incheon in South Korea had 122 of their residents receive the vaccine. Among this number, three female residents in their eighties and nineties passed away a few days after administration of the flu vaccine. Their demise, according to the public health agency was not due to the vaccine but instead due to the underlying health problems the patients had. Apart from this, none of the remaining individuals who received the normal vaccine have shown any signs to prove that their overall health is being affected. It is yet to be ascertained, how safe the vaccines that were exposed to room temperature are. By next week, more details will be made known to the public as a group is currently carrying out a study on the safety of exposed vaccines.