Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Millions of Flu Shots to be Destroyed

It seems a shame to have to destroy millions of flu shots which will still be active, they could last for two or three years. However, the strain of flu mutates slightly each year so each year's batch has to contain the best guess of the coming flu seasons strains.

Millions of doses of flu vaccine will expire at midnight June 30, unsold during this year's mild flu season and written off as trash. Still perfectly good, and possibly useful for a few more years, the vaccine will wind up being destroyed. This annual ritual is supposed to ensure that Americans get the most up-to-date vaccine, but the leftovers _ more than 10 million of a record 110 million doses produced _ will be destroyed before a new supply is guaranteed.

An Associated Press examination of this long-standing practice raises questions about its consequences. For years, policymakers have talked about letting doctors keep unused vaccine until new doses are in hand, donating leftover supplies to poor countries, or pushing back the expiration date. Wasted vaccine means lost money for drug companies and one stopped making flu shots because of it _ setting the stage for a flu shot shortage in 2004.

Still, there is a cost-saving solution. Keep them for use with creationists - well, the influenza virus can't evolve can it?

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