U.S. Worries Flu Shots May Go to Waste

U.S. Worries Flu Shots May Go to Waste (AP)

Two months after the government recommended that scarce flu shots be reserved for people most at risk, health officials are now worried that tens of thousands of doses could go to waste, and they are considering easing the restrictions. The demand for flu shots has turned out to be lower than expected because the flu season has been mild so far. Also, it turns out that more than half of all elderly or chronically ill adults have not even tried to get vaccinated because they figured no shots would be available, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.

The CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices plans to hold an emergency conference call Friday to discuss whether to amend its earlier response to the vaccine shortage and recommend that more people be allowed to get shots. “Many of us are now concerned we will not use vaccine supplies. The only sin this season is to leave vaccine on the shelf,” said Dr. William Schaffner, an influenza vaccine expert and head of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

The problem is that a flu shot is only good for the flu season it is made for. Any excess must be disposed of at the end of the season. The flu season begins in the fall and can last through April.

Ironic, given all the hubbub over this issue in late October, with it even becoming a topic in the presidential debates.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Figures says:

    Sometimes people over-react to information and this is what happens in the end. Scare the hell out of people and some will get misinformation or figure that things are worse than they are.

    I say dole out the extra vaccines at nursing homes and hospitals and then churches. For goodness sakes, there’s got to be some folks out there that really want a shot and would get one if they knew that there were extras left over.

  2. Maggie says:

    I say every member of the MSM that drummed up this story be forced to take a flu shot today!