It’s been the talk of the town lately, and that includes in the freight shipping community. We’re talking, of course, about the COVID vaccine. The cold chain has been heavily impacted by the shipping of the COVID 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 the questions you have 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 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 is expected to emerge, called peak vaccine season. As additional vaccine doses roll out, limitations on age groups ease up, and more vaccine options become available, the supply chain as a whole is expecting a more “all hands-on deck” type of approach, and this will be seen in the freight market.
Challenges for the Industry
There have been and will be a great number of 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. Supply needs to match the schedules of people waiting for their first or second shots and can’t be late. Shipping delays happen for a number of reasons, so shipping companies and 3PLs need to do what they can to mitigate those delays.
- 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. Experts in cold chain logistics will need to be at the forefront for upcoming demand surges.
Challenges for Shippers
We know the industry and shipping companies have their hands full when it comes to directly working on COVID vaccine shipments, but how does all of this impact shippers? Well, so far, overall capacity hasn’t seen a great tightening as a result of 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, that means those shipments will become priority and there will be less available fleets to handle other shipments at the time you may need.
- Simple economics. Low supply with high demand means price goes up. Same thing with freight rates. The money value for the space in the back of a freight truck is much higher and that comes out of shipper’s pockets.
- Businesses need to meet the demands for their customers. Busy shipping seasons where capacity is tougher to come by brings 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 in too tight of a condition 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 there are always fleets and companies 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.