Efficient and effective large-scale vaccine distribution

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The goal of pandemic response is to provide the greatest protection, for the most people, in the least amount of time. Short response times minimize both current and future health impacts for evolving pathogens that pose global threats. To achieve this goal, efficient and effective systems are needed for distributing and administering vaccines, a cornerstone of pandemic response. COVID-19 vaccines were developed in record time in the U.S. and abroad, but U.S. data shows that they were not distributed efficiently and effectively once available. In an effort to “put vaccines on every corner”, pharmacies and other small venues were a primary means for vaccinating individuals, but daily throughput rates at these locations were very low. This contributed to extended times from manufacture to administration. An important contributing factor to slow administration rates for COVID-19 was vaccine transport and storage box size. In this paper, we establish a general system objective and provide a computationally tractable approach for allocating vaccines in a rolling horizon manner optimally. We illustrate the consequences of both box size and the number and capacity of dispensing locations on achieving system objectives. Using U.S. CDC data, we demonstrate that if vaccines are allocated and distributed according to our proposed strategy, more people would have been vaccinated sooner in the U.S. Many additional days of protection would have occurred, meaning there would have been fewer infections, less demand for healthcare resources, lower overall mortality, and fewer opportunities for the evolution of vaccine-evading strains of the disease.




Muckstadt, J. A., Klein, M. G., Jackson, P. L., Gougelet, R. M., & Hupert, N. (2023). Efficient and effective large-scale vaccine distribution. International Journal of Production Economics, 262. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijpe.2023.108921

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