When the H1N1 vaccine first became available last fall, the doses were worth their weight in gold to many people desperate to get the shot, but now it’s being reported the government is about to throw away millions of those “precious” vaccines.
The news comes just days after health officials warned Americans the H1N1 flu season is not over yet, with the Southeast reporting an increase in cases of the virus.
According to a report in the Washington Post, less than half of the 229 million doses of the vaccine the government bought to fight the virus have been administered, which leaves an estimated 71.5 million doses that will have to be discarded if they are not used before they expire.
Still, government officials said they are “satisfied with the effort.”
"Did we do as well as we would have liked to? No, not at all," Dr. Anne Schuchat of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. "But the country did an extraordinary job of responding. It's pretty incredible to think about how much uncertainty we had at the beginning of this."
Schuchat added that it was “unavoidable that some doses would go to waste.”
"We were dealing with a very unusual situation. We had a pandemic. We had young people being killed," she said. "We wanted to make sure we had enough. We didn't want to be short. It was important to us to be able to protect the American people."
Federal officials estimate that between 81 million and 91 million doses of the vaccine were given to people through the end of February.
Since the outbreak of the H1N1 flu a year ago, the CDC estimates that more than 60 million people in the U.S. were sickened by the virus, at least 265,000 were hospitalized and more than 12,000 died.