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Proper Shipping and Tracking of COVID-19 Vaccines to Prevent Waste

Every year, more than half of vaccines go to waste globally because of temperature control, logistics, and shipment-related issues, according to Reuters. Given the immense scale and magnitude of the global COVID-19 crisis and subsequent vaccine rollout, effectively tracking inoculations throughout the supply chain all the way to the arm of each immunized person is paramount. A failure to accurately track vaccine processes could delay shipments or lead patients to miss vital second doses of the vaccine.

To help aid in the global COVID-19 vaccination effort, everyone from pharmaceutical manufacturers, shipping and logistics professionals, and major carriers have come together to implement an extensive distribution campaign. As countries across the globe continue to build up vaccine capacity, many governments have developed systems to track COVID-19 vaccine delivery to trace every dose shipped to various locales.

In the U.S., for example, the government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS) allocates every COVID-19 vaccine dose ordered by states and tracks them through shipping companies  to hospitals, clinics, long-term care facilities, and other vaccination sites. Assorted systems then track who gets the vaccine and report back to the federal government where the data is housed in a central software platform called Tiberius that enables public health officials to make sure the limited vaccine supply is rationed carefully and fairly. As USA Today reports, Tiberius monitors details of where the vaccine moves and who has received injections – however, personal identifiers are removed before authorities view the data. OWS and the CDC use Tiberius to calculate weekly allotments to states, territories, and jurisdictions, taking into account inventory, storage capacity, and target populations. Doing so helps keep vaccine doses from piling up or getting wasted between the manufacturer and the vaccination site.

To develop the proper capacity for vaccine distribution and administration, each healthcare site or contingent involved should ensure they meet the following requirements:

  • The readiness of appropriate temperature-controlled facilities and equipment
  • The availability of personnel trained to handle time- and temperature-sensitive vaccines
  • The development of comprehensive monitoring capabilities to maintain the integrity of the vaccines

As more is learned about the vaccines and the initial stages of the vaccination rollout move forward, along with adequately preparing health professionals to administer the vaccine efficiently and equitably, continually working to find ways to optimize vaccine distribution to avoid costly mistakes and prevent waste will be critical.

The massive undertaking of this effort in the U.S. alone – with the attempt to deliver about 500 million doses of the vaccines nationwide – provides plenty of opportunity for something to go wrong, so careful consideration must be given for effective vaccine distribution. While Pfizer has transported its product via dry ice thermal shippers with remote temperature monitoring systems installed, the protocol for Moderna’s vaccine is completely different; it cannot be stored on dry ice at all but can be stored in a freezer or refrigerator. Understanding these nuances and properly moving the vaccines from warehouses to trucks to rural areas, pharmacies, public health clinics, hospitals, and long-term-care facilities creates a substantial operational challenge.

Shipping of temperature-sensitive materials like the COVID-19 vaccine demands keen attention to detail to comply with safety regulations and strict cold chain requirements. Correct labeling and proper storage of pharmaceutical parcels are key, but nothing is more crucial than carrier compliance given the increased training and safety requirements carriers need to move perishable goods effectively and efficiently. Risking error by not automating the compliance process can be both costly and dangerous.

Multi-carrier parcel shipping software such as Logistyx TME helps optimize parcel shipping and mitigate delivery risk by improving the speed, accuracy, and flexibility of the supply chain. Whether shipping domestically or worldwide, TME guarantees carrier compliance, streamlines transportation execution, and monitors parcel delivery movements – all critical factors when shipping life-saving treatments and vaccines.

To learn how Logistyx’s cloud TMS for parcel shipping can help you effectively plan for and manage complex supply chain events, contact us today.