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COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Doesn’t End with Carriers

Since the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency use authorization approving the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines, the delivery rollout to administer inoculations has been slower than expected.

According to a recent CBS News poll, most Americans are not satisfied with the coronavirus vaccine distribution in their state, with a majority saying it is going too slowly. The pace of vaccine distribution and fluctuating supply create greater challenges as demand increases. In the same poll, CBS News found that more people are now interested in getting vaccinated, with 41% of people saying they would get a vaccine as soon as possible should one become available to them at no cost, up from just 30% of people last July. Though demand for the vaccines is increasing, steady supply remains uncertain.

While supply chain partners and major carriers like FedEx and UPS boosted flexibility to successfully maintain the cold chain and ship refrigerated vaccines around the U.S. and the world, unfortunately, that chain has wavered in its last mile at the state and local levels. Distribution inconsistencies stem, in part, from allocation of the vaccine in the federal strategic reserve to states each week. Some weeks, certain states receive more vaccine doses than expected, forcing them to scramble to find more people to vaccinate; other weeks, they receive less than expected, forcing them to scramble to find more doses or cancel appointments.

For instance, during the week of January 11, New York state received 300,000 doses, but for the week of January 18, it was only allocated 250,000. In Oregon, the dwindling supply of doses caused Governor Brown to delay allowing residents 65 and older to receive the vaccine. In Florida, more than 40,000 people are overdue for their second shot, in part because of wait times, while thousands of other people can’t get appointments for the first shot.

As Dr. Nagurney, a logistics expert from the University of Massachusetts Amherst points out, some of the inconsistencies and delays at state and local levels “…would seem to be an indication of supply chain problems or systems breakdowns. In fact, it’s more about a shortage of employees to support the supply chains and distributions.”

For vaccine distribution to accelerate and succeed in greater inoculations while avoiding waste, training for administering the vaccine needs to increase, mass vaccination sites need greater coordination, administrators must develop and utilize robust scheduling methods, and IT departments must be capable of supporting larger-scale efforts.

Frustrated business leaders in North Carolina recently came together to form a last-mile plan to speed up the rollout in their state by creating a faster system for vaccinations with a goal to inoculate 10,000 people a day. To achieve that goal, the North Carolina executives examined the complexities involved and developed ways to move dose recipients in and out of facilities faster. If the pilot program running on the new model works, the group hopes it can serve as a template for other cities and states.

As more municipalities and organizations continue to ramp up execution of their COVID-19 vaccine strategy to meet growing demand, remaining agile is critical for effective end-to-end supply chain response. Utilizing the right technology solutions that can balance agility with speed and efficiency will be essential to ensure successful last-mile fulfillment, but it’s important to remember that vaccine delivery doesn’t end with carriers; it requires a dedicated and willing team to truly handle the last mile of inoculation.

At Logistyx, we’re proud to partner with COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to help them effectively execute their vaccine delivery and assist in the successful global distribution of these life-saving drugs. We work diligently with leaders in the pharmaceutical space and their carrier services networks to ensure the uninterrupted availability of a quality vaccine by building a custom network of carriers capable of meeting the rigorous standards for vaccine delivery and monitoring shipments from the earliest moments of shipping to last-mile delivery.

Contact us today to learn how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help create supply chain agility.