Immunization supply chain and logistics
The success of global immunization since the launch of the Expanded Programme on Immunization (EPI) by the World Health Assembly in 1974 depends greatly on a functional end-to-end immunization supply chain and logistics system. The role of the supply chain is to ensure effective vaccine storage, handling, and stock management; rigorous temperature control in the cold chain; and maintenance of adequate logistics management information systems.
The ultimate goal is to ensure the uninterrupted availability of quality vaccines from manufacturer to service-delivery levels, so that opportunities to vaccinate are not missed because vaccines are unavailable.
This requires a system to achieve the six rights of supply-chain management:
Despite the success of routine immunization programmes worldwide, national vaccine supply chains are now strained to effectively manage the surge of new vaccine introductions, adapt to the needs of new delivery strategies, or benefit from new technological advances in cold chain equipment to increase their efficiency and effectiveness. The mounting pressures to increase performance are pushing the limits of what can be achieved. It is for this reason that WHO has prioritized this area of work as a key building block of the Global Vaccine Action Plan (GVAP).
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Last reviewed July 2014