Expert: Supply chain focus can help fix federal vaccine rollout

BOSTON — Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker has spoken about the lack of vaccine supply and “visibility” into information on when more vaccine is arriving as being major factors for the rocky vaccine rollout. A supply chain expert told Boston 25 News that a few tweaks at the federal level would go a long way to helping states like Mass. streamline vaccinations.

“What we need is a centralized national plan,” said Nada Sanders, a distinguished professor of supply chain management at Northeastern University. “We have to be able to see from the federal level the entire picture.”

Beyond a centralized plan, Sanders said medical experts and supply chain experts should work together on the federal response. Sanders offered four steps to fix the rollout that include a centralized system, an algorithm, end-to-end transparency communication and pooling of intelligence.

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“Medical people do not know how supply chains work,” Sanders said. “Supply chain people do not know what is happening with the virus.”

Sandra LaMarche of Wakefield, a frontline worker, has received her first of two doses of COVID-19 vaccine and spent several days this week trying to register her husband Al for the state’s Phase 2 vaccinations on the state’s website.

“It’s frustrating and it’s a little bit fearful,” said LaMarche, a registered nurse. “Now, we have more strains of the virus.”

As of Saturday afternoon, she had no luck finding an appointment close to home. The state has said appointments are added on a rolling basis and encouraged people to check the site often.

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On the same day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration, Amazon offered its operational and communications resources to assist the vaccine rollout while asking that its essential employees receive vaccinations.

Sanders said a private-sector mentality will be needed to save the bungled vaccine rollout. As Pfizer and Moderna continue to make vaccine doses and other companies near federal authorization, the supply could swell, but Sanders said that may not be enough to fix the supply chain problems.

“You are going to see bottlenecks that are rolling, they are going to pop up,” Sanders explained.

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