Immunization supply and procurement
Vaccines are market products subject to usual business practices but they require extra consideration. The purchase of vaccines is complex and requires a specialized knowledge and a precise approach.
Vaccines are different from solid-form pharmaceuticals and purchasing cannot follow the same procedure for both. Health specialists are not always aware of the need to apply different purchasing approaches. There are many companies producing vaccines but only a few meet internationally-recognized standards of safety and efficacy.
Making awards based only on price can be dangerous. Quality should always be the first consideration. The safety and efficacy of the vaccines cannot be determined soley through laboratory testing. Vaccines are heat sensitive. Cold-room capacity must be available at the time the vaccines are delivered. It is recommended that governments purchase their vaccines through a well-established procurement entity which follows internationally recognized procurement procedures and takes account of the extra considerations related specifically to vaccines.
WHO works closely with UNICEF Supply Division and the PAHO Revolving Fund on vaccine procurement policies and practicalities. Further specific information on these entities and their activities in relation to vaccine procurement are valuable resources.
Last updated: 25 September 2009