COVID Vaccine Shipping and the Cold Chain

by Nadia Brosious

The COVID vaccine and COVID vaccine shipping have been the talk of the town here recently. The cold chain has been impacted by the shipping of the vaccine because of its temperature-sensitive shipping requirements. With millions upon millions of doses shipped out and more on the way, how has this impacted the cold chain and the supply chain as a whole, and how could it impact your business shipping needs?

We’re answering all your questions about the cold chain and COVID vaccine shipping, so you can stay up to date on what’s happening in the logistics industry.


What’s the Latest on COVID Vaccine Shipping?


So far, COVID vaccine shipments seem mighty in numbers, but they have actually consumed limited capacity in the overall supply chain. That is because only three carriers, FedEx, UPS, and CRST, are contracted by the government to handle these cold chain shipments. Despite the mass media attention, the COVID vaccines aren’t something that’s totally taken over every freight truck you see out there.

However, things are expected to ramp up even more very soon. Just as we’ve mentioned peak shipping seasons for other industries, a new peak season, called peak vaccine season, is expected to emerge. As additional vaccine doses roll out, limitations on age groups ease up, and more vaccine options become available, the supply chain is expecting a more “all hands-on deck” type of approach, which will be seen in the freight market.


Challenges for the Industry with COVID Vaccine Shipping


There have been and will be many challenges regarding the cold chain and COVID vaccine shipments. Let’s start with challenges for the freight industry:

–  We mentioned earlier how only three carriers are contracted to handle these shipments; finding the right carriers for the vaccine in the first place was tricky enough. The first COVID vaccine shots to be rolled out were protected by a police escort. As more doses need shipping, more qualified carriers will be needed to help move them.

You can imagine how tight deadlines are for COVID vaccine shipments. Shipping delays happen for several reasons, so shipping companies and 3PLs need to do what they can to mitigate those delays. Supply needs to match the schedules of people waiting for their first or second shots and can’t be late.

Experts in cold chain logistics will need to be at the forefront for upcoming demand surges. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be shipped via temperature-controlled shipping to ensure they stay potent. That means more qualified carriers who offer this service method will be needed.


Challenges for Shippers


We know the industry and shipping companies have their hands full when directly working on COVID vaccine shipments, but how does this impact shippers? So far, overall capacity hasn’t seen a great tightening due to vaccine shipments. But that could change with the peak vaccine season coming up shortly. What happens when capacity gets tighter?

–  If more and more carriers hop on the COVID vaccine shipping service, those shipments will become a priority, and there will be fewer available fleets to handle other shipments at the time you may need.

Simple economics. Low supply with high demand means the price increases—the same as freight rates. The monetary value for the space in the back of a freight truck is much higher, and that comes out of the shipper’s pockets.

Businesses need to meet the demands of their customers. Busy shipping seasons, where capacity is tougher to come by, bring a great challenge for business operators who need to meet deadlines and keep their customers happy.

Luckily, even as the peak vaccine season commences, capacity shouldn’t be too tight because only a few carriers currently ship the COVID vaccine. Keep in mind that you may need to go with a different carrier during peak vaccine season if you usually ship with one of the contracted vaccine carriers. The good news is that fleets and companies are always available for small business shippers to get their work done.


You’ll Need a Helping Hand


FreightCenter is here to help you ship freight affordably and efficiently no matter what is happening in the cold chain, with COVID vaccine shipments, or the logistics industry as a whole. We are your one-stop shop for everything shipping. Our network of carriers includes some of the most well-known, reliable companies in the business. We can help you source equipment for cargo like refrigerated freight to get your goods delivered safely and quickly while offering SMS text tracking capabilities, so you can always stay on top of your shipment during these busy times.

Our expert shipping agents are standing by to help you ship freight your way. Start by getting an online quote or call 800.716.7608.




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