Vaccine Logistics: COVID-19 Challenges


The world is going into its greatest vaccination campaign in history with the start of the global COVID-19 vaccine rollout. More than 400 million doses have been signed up for distribution, and more than 100 million people have already received their shots thanks to vaccine logistics. According to the estimates of health officials, it could take around five more months to vaccinate 70-80% of the US population. It is a safe quantity for going back to normal life.

The role of vaccine logistics

Dr. Katherine O’Brien, WHO’s Director of the Department of Immunization, Vaccines, and Biologicals, commented on the matter in the recent WHO article: “I can’t overemphasize the importance of that: we have to uphold the absolute highest international standards. The trade-off between benefit and risk has to be so clear and data-driven, in terms of benefit because vaccines, by their nature, are given to healthy people.”

“The cold chain planning is a critical element. Vaccines have to be deployed with attention to the required temperature in order to retain their potency. You can’t make a mistake on that.”

Vaccine logistics: Key supply chain challenges

With all the great success and efficiency of the approved vaccine providers, there are still challenges with the vaccine supply chain and transportation.

Vaccine cold storage

One of the main complications of vaccine distribution is that each provider has its own cold storage requirements. Shipping services need to meet them with strict compliance. For example, Pfizer vaccine temperature storage is comparably extremely low: -80ºC to -60ºC (-112ºF to -76ºF). For the Moderna vaccine, storage temperature is -25°C and -15°C (-13°F and 5°F). Simultaneously, OxfordAstraZenteca climate conditions are 2 to 8 degrees Celsius (36 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit). Companies that transport these shots need to be sure to stay compliant with the temperature requirements.

Vaccine cold chain: capacity issues

With stringent storage requirements and a global surge of vaccine distribution, companies struggle to sustain the need for refrigerated capacity. They also look for a suitable way to store the goods with appropriate temperature regulations. There is an additional strain of vaccine demand – a shortage of other essential medical supplies such as needles, alcohol wipes, and other critical PPE equipment. Working with a reliable 3PL ensures transporting vaccines and other temperature-sensitive shipments in the safest and most efficient manner. PLS Logistics is already working with vaccine distributors, so our customers can fully rely on our vaccine logistics management capabilities.

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