The risk is small-it's around 0.13 per cent-but it does exist, say researchers from America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
Surprisingly, their research was intended to allay people's fears about vaccines. Not all the deaths following vaccination were caused by the vaccine itself, and there is no absolute proof that vaccines cause death, they say.
Their research took in all the deaths that happened within 60 days following a vaccination. Their study covered the period from January, 2005 to December, 2008, during which time 13.03 m people were vaccinated.
Most of the 15,455 deaths were among older people, presumably after they had a flu shot, and the cause of death matched the leading four causes recorded in national statistics.
Aside from the elderly, other vulnerable groups could include pregnant women and people with chronic health problems, and doctors perhaps need to think carefully before vaccinating them, say the researchers.
(Source: American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2013; 45: doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2013.02.020).