H1N1 or commonly known as swine flu was the talk of the town in year 2009. The biggest challenge was the rapid spread of the disease, time to develop H1N1 vaccine and shortage of supply of H1N1 vaccine. The industry and health care agencies were on toes and developed and supplied H1N1 vaccine within reasonable time frame.
The US Department of health and Human Services said that around 40 million doses of H1N1 vaccine expired on 30th June 2010, which accounts for 25% of 162 million doses of H1N1 vaccine that public has access to. The vaccine will be crushed and then incinerated.
- About 90 million doses of the vaccine was dispensed in 2009-2010.
- Eighty million Americans were vaccinated (~25 % of the population–children under 9 years old got two doses)
How does HHS feel regarding expiry of H1N1 vaccine?
Approximately 32 million doses remain in storage, set to expire at various times next year. HHS spokesperson Bill Hall said that “Our decisions regarding vaccine production were in line with the existing threat at the time such decisions were made. Although there were many doses of vaccine that went unused, it was much more appropriate to have been prepared for the worst case scenario than to have had too few doses. As we...
have said repeatedly, the risk of influenza disease is far greater than the risk of vaccination either for seasonal or pandemic influenza.”
- Manufacturers expect to produce about 175 million doses of the 2010-2011 seasonal vaccine including the 2009 H1N1 strain.
- HHS is encouraging states to keep any H1N1 vaccine they have in stock in the event cases begin to spike before that seasonal vaccine is available.
It is a hard decision for the authorities to estimate the quantities of the vaccine required for an outbreak like swine flu. I agree with HHS that having more of the vaccines available for use than less is more beneficial in the long run. One question I have though is; could HHS have shipped the vaccines to countries like Africa, where there would have been short supply of vaccine?