The Supply Chain: A Vaccine’s Journey from Manufacturer to Patient
Thanks to the advancements in communication and technology, a vaccine made in a laboratory of one town can find its way to the hands of a nurse providing immunizations to children in a clinic halfway across the world.
There are a variety of diseases that are preventable through vaccinations. Once a disease has been identified and studied, and a vaccine has been developed, the next step is to manufacture. To get a better idea of this process, a summary was detailed by the Global Alert and Response program of the World Health Organization in 2009.
This briefing may be specific to the events following the discovery of a new strain of influenza, but it showcases the time and effort involved in producing vaccinations for the masses. Once manufacturing begins, a vaccine must pass quality control, endure additional tests during the packaging process, and must face additional studies to ensure that it is safe and effective.
Research and studies are conducted and requests are received to determine where these vaccinations are to be sent. So begins the process of safe and reliable transportation. Handlers follow specific guidelines to ensure the well-being of a vaccine. Some vaccines require refrigeration while others may need to be kept frozen. The American Academy of Pediatrics details proper vaccine transport techniques as does the CDC. Suggestions include utilizing portable coolers, refrigerators, and freezers, along with necessary thermometers and proper insulation (AAP). They must remain in containers with optimal temperatures to guarantee potency (CDC). Throughout transport, up until administration, vaccines are to be monitored closely (CDC).
Depending on where a vaccine is sent, it could have multiple temporary homes. From the manufacturing site, it may be transported to a central facility. It might be moved to a regional or local site, depending on the demand for the vaccine in specific places. At last, it arrives at a clinic where it is administered to a patient (nicely summarized in figure by Path.org, page 4 ). This is where all the processes, guidelines, and hard work pay off. A vaccine, if properly handled from start to finish, is safely provided to individuals across the globe. It is one vital aspect to disease prevention that affects individuals, communities, and people as a whole.