H1N1 vax largely unused, almost expired

Nearly half the 162 million doses of H1N1 vaccine produced to fight the flu in the U.S. have gone unused, and some batches have either expired or are nearing their expiration date, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. This report comes even as Surgeon General Regina Benjamin and the CDC's Anne Schuchat caution that the H1N1 flu is still circulating, especially in the Southeast.

Pennsylvania's Allegheny County Health Department reports that it will be disposing of 9,400 expired doses of the vaccine mist spray soon, as well as 730 expired doses of the injectable version, says spokesman Guillermo Cole.

State health officials say that more than 683,575 doses were sent to health department district offices and the 60 state health centers. Of those, 26,897 have been thrown out because they expired. Overall, an estimated 800,000 doses were recalled because they didn't meet potency standards, the Post-Gazette reports.

The H1N1 vaccine was supplied by CDC, which paid $1.6 billion to four manufacturers to produce 229 million doses of the vaccine, says spokesman Tom Skinner, as quoted by the Post-Gazette. From that, 162 million doses have been produced and more than 90 million doses were administered--just over half the supply. Three states are reporting regional flu activity--Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina--while Puerto Rico and eight states, mostly in the Southeast, report local flu activity. 

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases recently issued a report of two people with compromised immune systems who became ill with 2009 H1N1 influenza and developed drug-resistant strains of virus after less than two weeks on therapy.
Both patients developed resistance to Tamiflu (oseltamivir), and one also demonstrated clinical resistance to intravenous peramivir, which is now in experimental testing.

- check out the CDC announcement
- see the NIH's statement on the drug-resistant flu cases
- read the Post-Gazette's coverage