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While the Federal Government is committed to executing a comprehensive COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the distribution of vaccines falls individually on state and local government support. In our blog series on the vaccine rollout, Booz Allen’s Chief Medical Officer Kevin Vigilante and our health experts examine best practices and lessons learned from across the health landscape, including potential strategies and approaches that could help state and local governments improve vaccination rollouts.
As state and local health agencies continue to work through their phased approaches to administering COVID-19 vaccinations, it’s clear they need to evaluate and address numerous supply chain challenges to improve efficiency. Media coverage is filled with images of long lines, stories of residents searching for vaccine appointments, vaccine shortages, and surpluses where leftover vaccines are administered to anyone available at the right time and place. These scenarios compound the frustration of those willing and eligible to get vaccinated.
States and local health authorities face a daunting task: Vaccinate 300 million American residents over the next 6 months. Most U.S. states and territories are basing their COVID vaccination plans on earlier pandemic influenza processes. Unfortunately, these experiences do not sufficiently scale to support the mega-vaccination sites required to meet current nationwide demand.
Health authorities must look at new and creative ways to scale vaccine administration while developing processes that improve supply chain efficiency. They all have a common constraint: vaccine supply, which has been limited but will soon be more widely available. States and territories must work around this constraint and revise their current plans using lessons learned from large-scale events (such as concerts or sporting events) and high-volume manufacturing to incorporate supply chain flexibility and scalability.
Translating these principles into concrete steps will help state and local health agencies evaluate their end-to-end supply chain and create their own action plans to address supply chain inefficiencies. The steps should include:
Health agencies should balance on-hand and forecasted vaccine inventory with the number of people eligible and willing to receive the vaccine. Additionally, they should take advantage of established scheduling systems (like ticketing processes used when attending a concert or sporting event) to facilitate vaccine administration and distribution.
Vaccines should be delivered from manufacturers to the point of vaccine administration daily, eliminating depots and staging areas. This would end the waste of secondary transporting of vaccines and optimize the allocation of vaccines across the entire provider network in each state.
To ensure just-in-time delivery of vaccines to the point of administration, vaccine clinics should develop forecasts of number of shots needed in the next 14 days. This step would enable health agencies to allocate vaccines based on demand across their state and make the request to the Federal Government.
Health agencies should define metrics (such as daily doses administered versus delivered, and labor required per doses administered). These metrics can be provided using the current federal Vaccine Tracking System (VTrckS) and utilized to refine forecasted doses and labor needed based on demand.
In upcoming blog posts, we’ll further expand on these critical steps and how health authorities can use them to improve internal vaccination supply chains while working with a limited supply of vaccine. Evaluating and optimizing their supply chains gets public health agencies one step closer to their important goal: more shots in more arms to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
Want to stay updated on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout? Check back here as we continue to share insights. And feel free to share this post with those you care about.