Stress test on logistical aspects of COVID-19 vaccination deployment plans for the Western Balkans: final report
ECDC, together with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Health and Food Safety, and supported by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations, organised a stress test of the logistical aspects of COVID-19 vaccination deployment plans for the Western Balkans.
All six partners (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo*, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and Serbia) participated in a focused simulation exercise conducted on 1 February 2021. They were asked to describe the deployment plans in place for delivering a vaccine with strict cold chain requirements to their target priority groups. Most described the strong role of public health institutes at national and regional level in guiding the development of deployment plans based on their long experience in vaccination campaigns. Reviews of cold chain requirements revealed gaps, especially in ultra-cold storage capacity, which are being filled with support from the European Union (EU) and the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF). Electronic systems for logistics management and vaccination registries, both newly developed in some and pre-existing in others, were described by partners, while the obvious advantages of these systems in terms of data collection, vaccination management, and reporting were highlighted. Plans were also in place in five Western Balkans partners, and in development in one, to promote the vaccination campaign, including using and monitoring social media to support the roll-out.
One of the most important aspects of the stress test was to provide an opportunity for those involved in developing their vaccine deployment plan to test it against a realistic scenario, to work through all the elements of deployment, and provide reassurance that the plan was robust and that any issues identified could be addressed. Feedback from those who took part in the stress test indicated that this opportunity to review the plan against a realistic scenario was achieved. The stress test was completed when participants came together in a webinar on 5 February 2021 to hear an overview of the results from this and the previous exercise involving EU Member States and to share their experiences of vaccine deployment planning to date.
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