A spokeswoman for the ministry said it had approached manufacturers GlaxoSmithKline and Novartis about buying back the doses.

She added that it was not clear what their total value was. She also declined comment on the status of the talks, saying the ministry would inform parliament of the details at a later date.

At the height of the H1N1 scare, the ministry ordered 34 million doses of pandemic flu vaccine -- enough to give two shots to every person in The Netherlands.

Of the original order, about 11 million doses were administered and another 2.2 million are being kept in reserve for emergencies.