Recycling Gone Wild – Flu vaccine syringes!

Children told to be tested for HIV after flu vaccines reused | 9news.com.

People have caught the ‘green bug’ — an infection with  enthusiasm for recycling.  This has extended into health care environments where some inappropriate recycling can be observed.

For example certain plastics and containers are recycled, or inappropriately transferred from patient  rooms to be reused in other patient rooms.   This is a danger for the spread of infection, and the rampant spread of  staph and clostridium infections may be resulting from this and other bad practices. Some health care employees cannot be dissuaded from these practices.

Above linked is a news story about a pediatric clinic in Colorado, (Med Peds Clinic of Fort Collins) where some enterprising employee decided to recycle half used   syringe doses of flu vaccine.

Those syringes (to a normal health care worker) are single use items.  Even if it had been appropriate to use half of the dose, the remainder should have been tossed out  in the biohazardous waste.

Instead the  medical assistant changed the needles on the syringe and recycled.

So…….  a lot of kids have apparently received half flu doses, and may have been exposed to infection from other patients.   There is a practice  of pulling back a bit  on the syringe, when injecting a vaccine, to make sure it’s not being shot directly into a blood vessel.

Dr Mark S. Simmons of the clinic stated :  “we are a little dismayed that one of our former medical assistants did not follow procedures when handling this” Recommendations from the clinic are that patients who received the vaccines be tested for  HIV, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C, (etc.)   There is not a mention of who would cover this expense.

Some things shouldn’t be recycled.

Excess Flu Vaccine after the Shortage

We saw this after the last flu panic too……  loads of wasted flu vaccine after incidents of rationing and vaccine hoarding.

U.S. has 71 million unused flu vaccine doses | Reuters.

The same thing happened this year after the H1N1 panic.  Vaccine became widely available only after the flu had abated.

Interested in obtaining the vaccine waned when it became apparent that the panic was overblown, and as usual, the  CDC and other government advisory groups had  little knowledge about this strain of flu virus.

What’s left is the usual government waste:  almost 70 million  unused H1H1 flu vaccine doses.

Note that the above linked article pretends to have a figure of  U.S. deaths caused by H1N1 virus.   That number is actually unknown.

From the memory division of the Pharm,  here’s  a blast from the 2004/2005 flu season  when the fears of  shortage drove Illinois governor Blagojevich to order unapproved vaccines from Europe, which were eventually wasted..

Your tax dollars at work………