Rob Stein, the Washington Post writer who authored the article comes off as clueless for repeating the ideas of unnamed "officials" (presumably from the CDC):
The surprising surplus appears to be the result of a combination of factors, including the spotty availability of vaccine, a relatively mild flu season so far and too many people voluntarily forgoing shots to help out those perceived as more in need, officials said.
Let's think about this a little.
"Spotty availability" can only lead to a surplus if there were surpluses in some locations that were not shipped to other locations where there were shortages. This is not surprising to economists - this is what happens when you choose central planning instead of decentralized decision making using price signals. Localized surpluses lower prices while localized shortage raise them. Send the vaccine where the price is the highest and you will solve most of your problems. It's that simple.
Having said that, there is the normative question of whether it is ethical to charge different prices for vaccines depending on location. I don't have an answer for that. What I can tell you is that the CDC chose to avoid this option in favor of the possibility that they would have vaccine left over to throw away. Whether that was right or wrong is subjective question which reasonable people can differ over. What isn't reasonable is to pretend to be surprised by the results of a choice you've made.
"A relatively mild flu season" is code for "insufficient flexibility in our thinking". First there is the obvious consideration that perhaps they panicked everyone into getting shots, thus shutting down transmission. But, more reasonably, mild flu seasons do occur. In those you ought to reduce the retail price of the vaccine if you are so worried about having a surplus. Again, they are choosing to whine about the surplus rather than take obvious alternatives.
Lastly, "people voluntarily forgoing shots" is clueless in the extreme. The authorities browbeat people into forgoing shots. Did they really think this message wouldn't reduce the marginal benefit that people got from these, and their associated willingness to pay for them?
Do these people know Vizzini?