Facing state barriers, flu jabs go unused

Years ago, it was typical to have flu vaccine shortages as doctors would typically use up their supply early in the season. Those long lines are history; vaccine production is at an all-time high. According to the CDC, suppliers have created 146 million units this year. And now it's the flu vaccines themselves that are waiting to be used. State regulations requiring prescriptions for flu shots may keep many from getting immunized and leave millions of vaccines unused. As many as 20 million units may be disposed of this year.

Among the states that require a prescription or a license nurse or physician to administer the jab are Arizona, South Carolina, and Maine, as well as the District of Columbia. In September, Georgia became the last state to adopt this policy. The change in policy came after a legal ruling regarding a complaint filed with the state Board of Pharmacy last year. The flu vax is now considered a "dangerous drug" in Georgia and as such, cannot be administered by a pharmacist without a prescription.

Sanofi Pasteur supplies 50 percent of vaccines to healthcare providers across the country. As flu strains change, the vaccine must be re-created each year. As a result, the company expects to see losses because of the large amount of unused vaccines this flu season.

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