The Bogus Flu Shot Crisis

Guess what? We have more than enough vaccine:

The flu-shot shortage has turned into a surplus in some areas, raising fears that some vaccine might be wasted.

Aventis Pasteur, supplier of almost all flu-shot vaccine for the USA this year, still has about 3.3 million doses to distribute to U.S. consumers. GlaxoSmithKline is on tap to ship 1.2 million shots from Europe. And MedImmune, maker of a nasal vaccine, has supplies.

But more than a dozen states contacted by USA TODAY say they have enough vaccine to meet demand. That is because many people at high risk for the flu opted to forgo shots this season, believing other people needed them more.

The USA lost nearly half its flu vaccine last fall after manufacturer Chiron’s 48 million doses were declared unusable because of contamination fears. A mild flu season also has eased the demand.

Here’s the key: Last year, during a severe flu season, Americans used only 30 million doses.

Now, since we still had 55 million doses to spread around, and we only used 30 million last year, where was the shortage?

The accounts receivables of Aventis Pasteur, GlaxoSmithKline, and MedImmune, I bet.

This doesn’t give me a good feeling about the way public health alerts are issued. Is the CDC–which holds patents on a fair number of vaccines–concerned about the health of the American public, or the health of biotech stocks?

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