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Reckless Flu Vaccination

Posted September. 28, 2003 22:56,   


According to the National Institute of Health on September 28, 380,000 people were vaccinated for influenza during September 2002 nationwide, while the number more than doubled from between the 1st and 20th of September this year, with the number of vaccinated people reaching 970,000.

The National Institute of Health is expecting total of 10 million to 12 million people to be vaccinated this year. As for last year, only 8 million were vaccinated.

A health official said that he thinks “vaccination cases increased due to the outbreak of SARS,” and that they are being “cautious in controlling supply and demand by, for example, providing public health centers with vaccines for additional 50,000 people.”

Not only public health centers, but also children`s hospitals and local hospitals are so crowded with people waiting to receive injections that hours of waiting is unavoidable.

Housewife, Chung who lives in Anyang said that, “I went to the children`s hospital to get treatments for my one-year-old son who has atopy skin trouble, and was so surprised to see so many people there,” and that, ”seeing all those people, I ended up vaccinating my son as well.”

The fact that babies less than 6 months old are getting influenza injections is leading to concerns for side-effects, for such babies are not eligible for vaccination.

Cho, a housewife who lives on Kangseogu, Seoul, said on September 27 that she had her “2 months-old son injected with influenza vaccine, when we went to the hospital to get my 4-year-old son vaccinated,” and that she “didn`t know that they were not allowed to be vaccinated and people at the hospital didn`t restrain me.”

Such “craze” for influenza vaccination is due to people`s incorrect knowledge that flu vaccines will prevent SARS; at the beginning of this month, the National Institute of Health recommended flu vaccinations in preparation for SARS, and this gave out wrong ideas to the citizens.

The NIH recommended people to be vaccinated against flu in order to eliminate confusion while dealing with SARS, for it is in effect impossible to distinguish influenza from early-stage SARS. However, when hospitals hung out notices saying “Get flu injections in preparation for SARS,” people mistook the vaccine for SARS prevention means.

The World Health Organization announces “This Year`s Flu” every year in March, and pharmaceuticals make flu vaccines after decapitating germs in the influenza virus and culturing them in eggs.

As in last year, this year`s flu are Newcaledonia type A, Moscow type A and Hong Kong type B, and all pathogens are orthomyxoviridae virus, which are different from Corona virus.

Seong-Ju Lee Dong-Won Kim stein33@donga.com daviskim@donga.com