H1N1 vaccines to expire sooner than thought

Approximately 16 million remaining doses of monovalent 2009 H1N1 vaccine made by Sanofi Pasteur and packaged in multidose vials will expire sooner than expected.

Federal health officials said, however, that the actual expiration dates of the vaccines have yet to be determined, according to a CIDRAP News report.

Donna Cary, a Sanofi spokeswoman, told CIDRAP News that the vaccines were made with an expected 18 month shelf life.

“There’s a possibility that some of them may fall below the potency specification before the 18 months are up, so we reached out to FDA and CDC about a process to get this vaccine taken care of,” Cary told CIDRAP News.

The CDC has since issued a Health Alert Network e-mail notice about the shortened shelf life.

Cary couldn't give the current expiration dates for the vaccine doses. She also couldn't predict how much the shelf life will be shortened. That, she said, will be decided by the FDA after the company files information with the agency.

Cary also said reasons are not clear as to why the vaccine had the unexpected decline in potency.

A Sanofi statement noted that supplies of the 2010-11 seasonal flu vaccine are already being shipped. The company also recommends disposal of the earlier monovalent vaccine to eliminate the opportunity for vaccine mix-up and administration error.

Unexpired monovalent H1N1 vaccine can still be used in certain people, according to an online CDC guide, including children and adults who have not had any doses of the vaccine and will be traveling to places where they could be exposed to the pandemic H1N1 virus before the 2010-11 seasonal vaccine becomes available in September.