Flu vaccine in surplus; excess to be discarded

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Once again there's an evidence that there was too much of flu vaccine available in US this season. What's going to happen to the surplus? It will be destroyed. Do the Big Pharma companies care? Not at all, the vaccine shots were already paid by the state. Who paid for destroyed vaccine? Correct, the taxpayers. 

By David Singleton, The Times Tribune

The good news, health officials say, is plenty of flu vaccine is available for anyone who hasn’t yet received a shot.

The downside is that probably won’t change even after flu season is over.

Amid a nationwide surplus of flu vaccine, health care providers in Northeastern Pennsylvania and across the state expect tens of thousands of doses to go unused.

Health officials see many culprits, including the unseasonably mild weather and a relatively late onset of the flu season in Pennsylvania.

“I’d rather have a little extra than not have enough,” said Dean Parry, director of clinical pharmacy programs for the Geisinger Health System, which serves 31 northeastern and central counties.

Geisinger ordered 104,000 doses of vaccine for this winter, part of a record 110 million doses available nationwide. Mr. Parry expects to have 8,000 to 10,000 doses left over.

The Visiting Nurse Association Hospice and Palliative Care Center of Lackawanna County, which sponsored 10 flu vaccine clinics last fall, expects at least 250 of the 1,000 doses it ordered will not be used, according to Mary Kay Mercanti, R.N., who oversees the program.

It is unclear how many of the approximately 2 million doses of vaccine sent to public and private providers in Pennsylvania this year will not be used, said Richard McGarvey, spokesman for the state Department of Health. Because the vaccine is good for only one season, the excess will be discarded.

The department distributed 200,000 doses for use by state health centers and state programs such as Vaccines for Children. Based on what he has heard from nurses in the field, there may be a surplus of 20,000 to 30,000, Mr. McGarvey said.

“Quite frankly, we would rather be in this position than not have enough,” he said.

Mr. Parry said it didn’t help that the 2005-06 flu season was relatively mild. People who didn’t receive a vaccine last year, and who didn’t get the flu, may have decided to take their chances and skip their shot this year.

There is still time for people who haven’t received a vaccine to get one, although that time is growing short. The healt department anticipates flu cases will start picking up steam in the next couple of weeks.

source The Times Tribune