Last year, we witnessed just how important an efficient supply chain is as store shelves became empty of essentials like soap, baby formula, and personal protective equipment; there was uncertainty about when these items would be restocked.
As demand grows for vaccinations, the supply chain is critical to ensure COVID-19 vaccine doses are delivered safely and efficiently. Vaccine distribution is no simple task; there are several moving pieces and intricacies that need to be monitored, tracked, and communicated properly down the chain.
Here is how an efficient supply chain will help with the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
Decrease Vaccine Damages
The vaccine is made up of perishable materials that require a cold environment to prolong their shelf-life. Once it was discovered that refrigeration units were required to deliver the vaccine, hospitals bought up all of the units they could get their hands on, creating a bottleneck effect. However, refrigeration units aren’t the only hot item on the market. Early on in the pandemic, there was a shortage of masks, gloves, and other personal protective equipment (PPE), and these issues in the supply chain have not been resolved. Refrigeration units and PPE are both vital to the success of vaccine distribution. If the vaccine is not stored properly and healthcare professionals do not have the necessary PPE to administer doses, the vaccine will be damaged and slow down the distribution to Americans.
Monitor Individuals Everywhere
After obtaining everything needed to administer doses safely, distributors will need to be able to track where the doses are being sent. This will require an efficient supply chain. Rural areas, or areas where there are no traditional healthcare facilities within proximity, cannot be forgotten by supply chains. For some areas, the distance individuals must travel for the vaccine is far and they do not have the means to make the trip. Lower-income neighborhoods and rural areas will need to have a plan in place to monitor how those individuals will receive each vaccine dose. A supply chain that can clearly communicate this plan will help with the efficiency of rural area distribution.
Lack of Communication
In a time of uncertainty, the communication between states and the federal government needs to be clear to ensure accuracy. There are multiple vaccine series, so to keep track of where each series is needed, an efficient supply chain must be in place. Once someone is administered a vaccine, they must continue with that series. If distributors and healthcare professionals are not closely monitoring who has received which vaccine series, there will be a shortage of vaccines when it is time to distribute the second dose. A supply chain will help to monitor where individuals are geographically, and then distributing the correct number of each vaccine series to the area. Without a good system of communication, monitoring who has received which dose will become chaotic.
The COVID-19 vaccine is arguably the most important cargo to be shipped around the world, and with so many moving parts the supply chain needs to be efficient to reduce errors. Such a complex operation requires clear communication from everyone involved in the supply chain. Good communication will help to ensure individuals are receiving the correct vaccine series without delay. One misunderstanding within the supply chain could lead to bottlenecks and slow down the distribution process. The success of the vaccine depends not only on its medical make-up but also on how efficiently it is distributed. Supply chains are much more complex than many people realize, in this case, supply chain success could mean life or death.
Having an Enterprise Resource Planning software system to support your business is essential for supply chain efficiency.
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