Hong Kong to trash 2.8 million swine flu vaccine doses

Health officials in Hong Kong announced on Thursday that they intend to throw away 2.8 million doses of unwanted swine flu vaccines valued at approximately $28.2 million.

The vaccines, economictimes.indiatimes.com reports, were part of 3 million doses that were ordered at the height of the H1N1 pandemic last year. The vaccines were offered free to medical professionals, the elderly and children because of their elevated risk for exposure. People shunned the vaccines, however, after two people had seizures after receiving the vaccine and another two, who had also been vaccinated, gave birth to stillborn children, according to the report.

Although Hong Kong health officials guaranteed the safety of the vaccines, only 200,000 doses of the 2.8 million ordered doses were given, the report says.

A health department spokesman told economictimes.indiatimes.com that the vaccine would be discarded when it reached its expiration date in October.

The spokesman also told  economictimes.indiatimes.com that a new “three-in-one jab” will be offered in Hong Kong this fall, which should offer protection from swine flu and other types of common seasonal influenza.

Hong Kong has been sensitive to virus outbreaks following the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed 299 people and infected 1,800 in 2003, officials said.