Two suspended flu vaccines are safe, their use can be resumed: MOH

The likelihood that the vaccines had caused the deaths was low.
The likelihood that the vaccines had caused the deaths was low.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Two influenza vaccines - SKYCellflu Quadrivalent and VaxigripTetra - that had been suspended by the authorities on Oct 25 can now be used again, said the Ministry of Health (MOH) on Saturday night (Oct 31).

MOH had earlier called for the temporary cessation of the use of the vaccines after people who received them in South Korea died.

In a release on Saturday, MOH said that based on information released by the South Korean health authorities on Oct 29, the likelihood that the vaccines had caused the deaths was low.

Rather, the causes of death for 71 of the 72 people who died were highly likely due to underlying diseases, while the last case is still under investigation.

The South Korean health authorities also found that no vaccine from any particular manufacturer was associated with higher rates of reported deaths than the others.

In the statement, MOH said that the Health Sciences Authority (HSA) here had reviewed local adverse event reports as well as global safety data of the two vaccines and found them consistent with the known safety profile of influenza vaccines in general.

HSA also reviewed the test reports of all batches of the two vaccines supplied in Singapore and found that they meet quality standards.

MOH said that healthcare providers here have already been told that they can continue to offer these vaccines, as well as other vaccines available here for the Northern Hemisphere 2020-2021 influenza season.

However, the ministry acknowledged that like any medicine, influenza vaccines can have side effects.

These include soreness and redness at the injection site, fever, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue and nausea, which are generally mild and go away on their own.

But in rare cases, some people may experience high fever or allergic reactions such as breathing difficulty, wheezing and swelling around the eyes. In these cases, medical attention should be sought immediately.

"Influenza vaccination provides protection against seasonal influenza viruses, and is effective in reducing the risk of complications and deaths due to influenza. This is especially so for vulnerable groups such as the elderly, the young, pregnant women, those with certain pre-existing medical conditions. Those who are recommended to receive influenza vaccination are strongly advised to do so for their health and wellbeing," said MOH.

It added that together with HSA, it will continue to monitor any concerns related to influenza vaccination.