Fri, Jan 08, 2010 - Page 2 News List

Flu vaccine was not fatal: probe

UNRELATED Seventeen deaths have occurred shortly after patients received shots for A(H1N1), or swine flu. No shared clinical symptoms were detected in the victims

STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying, second left, holds up a chart at a press conference in the Legislative Yuan yesterday, as Centers for ­Disease Control Director-General Steve Kuo, first right, and Kang Jaw-jou, head of the ­Department of Health’s Food and Drug Administration, first left, look on. Yang was questioning whether the necessary clinical trials had been completed for Novartis’ A(H1N1) influenza vaccine.

PHOTO: CNA

The recent death of a woman in Taipei County after receiving a vaccine for A(H1N1) influenza was unrelated to the inoculation because she died of coronary heart disease, the Banciao District Prosecutors’ Office said on Wednesday.

The 78-year-old woman received an immunization shot on Dec. 22 and died on Christmas Day. The Banciao District Prosecutors Office and the Institute of Forensic Medicine under the Ministry of Justice conducted an autopsy on Dec. 30.

The autopsy report, which was released on Tuesday, showed that the cause of death was coronary heart disease, “a natural death,” chief prosecutor Cheng Hsing-hung (鄭鑫宏) said.

The autopsy report shows that there was no analphylactic shock (a severe allergic reaction), infections or other complications, and the woman’s relatives had no objections to the autopsy report, Cheng said.

Cheng said the public should not panic and avoid the vaccines because of being misled by media reports.

Meanwhile, the autopsy of a 45-year-old man, who died two days after receiving the vaccine last month, failed to help ­officials determine whether the man’s death was related to the vaccine.

The Pingtung District Prosecutors’ Office said the cause of death was choking on food, which may have resulted from medication the man had taken, but the possibility of post-vaccination nausea or vomiting could not be ruled out.

There was no proof of analphylactic shock, infections or other complications, the report said.

Since Taiwan began its vaccination program against the A(H1N1) virus last year, there have been 17 reported cases of people who died after receiving the vaccinations. Health authorities have not confirmed that any of the cases were caused by side effects from the vaccine.

Among the 17 deaths, no common clinical symptoms were found. Three cases have been proven to be unrelated to the vaccine, while the remaining 14 cases are awaiting further investigation, the report said.

The 17 deaths are among 168 cases of “suspected serious adverse events” following A(H1N1) vaccinations, a weekly monitoring report released by the Central Epidemic Command Center showed on Tuesday.

The Department of Health (DOH) yesterday said that both Novartis and Adimmune Corp vaccines for A(H1N1) influenza were safe.

“These two vaccines were approved after clinical trials,” Kang Jaw-jou (康照洲), head of the DOH’s Food and Drug Administration told a press conference held by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Yang Chiung-ying (楊瓊

瓔) at the legislature yesterday morning in answer to doubts raised about the safety of the vaccines.

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Director-General Steve Kuo (郭旭崧) said that he would take responsibility if either vaccine was unsafe.

Meanwhile, CDC spokesman Shih Wen-yi (施文儀) said that supermodel Lin Chih-ling (林志玲) had been approached to help promote the vaccine.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY JIMMY CHUANG

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