COVID-19 Vaccine Inventory Management Best Practices

Health care professional vaccinating female patient

Current COVID-19 vaccines require two doses to be administered 3-4 weeks apart (depending on product type). Jurisdictions and providers must carefully manage vaccine inventory to ensure completion of the vaccine series. At present, jurisdictions receive sufficient supply of doses to vaccinate all persons who receive a first dose.

A review of recent vaccine administration data across all jurisdictions shows that, as of January 30, 2021, of those persons completing their second dose series, 96% received their second dose on or within four days of the recommended 3-4-week time interval.  Within the 42-day period from receipt of first dose to second dose, a small percentage of persons do not receive their second dose of vaccine. If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose.

Successful management of vaccine

Successful management of vaccine includes strategies to optimize the number of persons receiving first doses while ensuring access to second doses. To maximize use of available doses of vaccine, the following steps are encouraged for jurisdictions and providers:

  • A steady, predictable amount of vaccine should be provided to each site. This allows sites to better manage patient scheduling and second dose administration plans.
  • As vaccine first doses are administered, providers should be able to estimate the number of patients that will require a second dose each week.
  • Patients requiring second doses should be prioritized. Schedulers may be used to help identify those seeking a second dose and manage apportionment of appointments for second doses based on projections.
  • On a weekly basis, providers should review missed appointments or other reasons for scheduled second doses not being used, and remaining doses should be repurposed for use as first doses.
    • Second doses should not be held or saved for patients who have not returned after 42 days following their first dose; these should be used as first doses.
  • Jurisdictions should track second dose administration to identify providers and sites they may be able to support further.

Administering second doses

It is important that providers continue to administer second doses wherever possible to ensure people are fully vaccinated. Therefore, providers should also:

  • Schedule second dose appointments to occur during the appropriate timeframe at the time of first dose appointment or immediately after first dose is received. Best practices to minimize missed appointments and optimize scheduling capabilities will vary based on site and schedulers used.
  • Provide second-dose reminders via electronic (e.g., v-safe, VaxText, reminders through Immunization Information Systems (IIS)) and/or paper means (e.g., vaccination reminder card).
  • Administer the second dose as close to the recommended interval as possible. If it is not feasible to adhere to the recommended interval, the second dose may be scheduled for administration up to 6 weeks (42 days) after the first dose. If the second dose is administered beyond these intervals, there is no need to restart the series.
Page last reviewed: August 17, 2021