We investigated whether introducing the rotavirus and pneumococcal vaccines, which are greatly needed in West Africa, would overwhelm existing supply chains (i.e., the series of steps required to get a vaccine from the manufacturers to the target population) in Niger.
As part of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation–funded Vaccine Modeling Initiative, we developed a computational model to determine the impact of introducing these new vaccines to Niger’s Expanded Program on Immunization vaccine supply chain.
Introducing either the rotavirus vaccine or the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine could overwhelm available storage and transport refrigerator space, creating bottlenecks that would prevent the flow of vaccines down to the clinics. As a result, the availability of all World Health Organization Expanded Program on Immunization vaccines to patients might decrease from an average of 69% to 28.2% (range=10%–51%). Addition of refrigerator and transport capacity could alleviate this bottleneck.
Our results suggest that the effects on the vaccine supply chain should be considered when introducing a new vaccine and that computational models can help assess evolving needs and prevent problems with vaccine delivery.