Assessing Shipping Conditions 

Calculating Volumes

To calculate the volume of vaccine to be shipped, it is necessary to know for each vaccine and diluent in the shipment:

  • The required storage temperature: 3 ranges of temperature are normally considered for vaccine transportation: -15 to -25°C, +2 to +8°C or ambient;
  • The number of doses to be transported;
  • The packed volume per dose (cm3/dose). The packed volume includes the vaccine vial, the packet containing the vaccine vial and any intermediate packaging (secondary packaging).

The maximum recommended packed volume per vaccine dose and diluents are:

       

Vaccine type

Dose per vial

cm3 per dose

BCG (freeze-dried)

20

1.2

DTP, DT, Td, TT

10

3.0

20

2.0

DTP-HepB

2

6.0

10

3.0

DTP-Hib

10

2.5

DTP+Hib (freeze-dried)

1

45.0

10

12.0

DTP-HepB+Hib (freeze dried)

1

22.0

2

11.0

HepB

1

18.0

1 in UNIJECT

30.0

2

13.0

6

4.5

10

4.0

20

3.0

Hib (liquid)

1

15.0

10

2.5

Hib (freeze-dried)

1

13.0

2

6.0

10

2.5

Measles (freeze-dried)

10

3.5

MMR (freeze-dried)

1

16.0

10

3.0

MR (freeze-dried)

10

2.5

Meningitis A&C

20

2.5

50

1.5

OPV

10

2.0

20

1.0

TT in UNIJECT

1

25.0

Yellow fever

5

6.5

10

2.5

20

1.0

Diluent for BCG

20

0.70

Diluent for Hib

1

35.0

10

3.0

Diluent for measles, MR, MMR

1

20.0

10

4.0

Diluent for meningitis A&C

20

2.5

50

1.5

Diluent for yellow fever

5

7.0

10

6.0

20

3.0

OPV droppers

n/a

17.0 (per unit)

Diluent for BCG

20

0.70

       

Be aware that the volume obtained from multiplying the packed volume per dose by the number of doses only takes into consideration the primary and the secondary packages: it doesn’t include the cold box packaging. Estimating the final transport volume (including the cold box) is necessary to correctly plan the transport means. For this purpose, a transport box bulking factor can be used. The bulking factor depends on the type of vaccine. WHO Guideline for establishing or improving primary and intermediate vaccine stores, recommends the following transport box bulking factors:

  • BCF, OPV, measles, MMR, MR = 6.0
  • Other vaccines = 3.0
  • Diluent, droppers = 1.5

Evaluating the Journey 

To evaluate the journey, some of the criteria to be consider are:

  • The transport modes and vehicle types.
  • The journey distances and its expected duration.
  • The environmental conditions: temperature (day–night and seasonal temperature extremes) and geographical and natural hazards.

There are 3 basic transportation stages in the supply chain of vaccines:

  1. From the manufacturer to a primary or central store: usually international shipments.
  2. Between (intermediary) stores: normally between national or district store facilities and down to the health care facility.
  3. Outreach transportation: final vaccine delivery during regular EPI or to a vaccination site during a mass vaccination campaign.

Aerial or terrestrial modes are preferred for vaccine transportation. Air transport is usually chosen for international or long-distance shipments. Terrestrial is used for transport of vaccine within the same country. Outreach is often done by any land transport mode: car, motorcycle, bicycle. Because of the long duration of the journeys, vaccines are rarely transported through waterborne means.

For further information on how to design a vaccine distribution system, refer to WHO Guideline for establishing or improving primary and intermediate vaccine stores.