Vaccine Supply in Perspective: from End-To-End Supply Chains to Full-fledged Immunization Systems

Call for papers for: Journal of Humanitarian Logistics and Supply Chain Management

Submissions Open: 1st May 2021

Submission Deadline: 31st August 2021


Infectious diseases pose a serious threat to global health and the economy, as the COVID-19 pandemic painfully shows. In terms of prevention, vaccines are widely recognized as a powerful tool to fight epidemics. However, not only is the development of vaccines challenging, but also the manufacturing and distribution of vaccines on a potentially global scale is anything but trivial. This requires a substantial investment, both in physical and human capital, in which many unknowns and uncertainties reside. To avoid delays once the vaccine candidates are ready for scale-up, a global and sustainable vaccine manufacturing and distribution network needs to be established, both to support planned immunization as well as to be prepared for outbreak response. In an End-To-End approach multiple aspects of the supply network need to be considered and coordinated, in a way that many upstream decisions and aspects in R&D have a considerable impact on the downstream supply network up to the very last mile and point of vaccination.

However, modeling the supply chain in the latter view is only part of the job. In an extended End-To-End view, a system wide approach is mandatory. At the point of vaccination the vaccine supply system meets two other crucial flows: the capacity to vaccinate and the person to be immunized. The capacity to vaccinate includes the contextual setting of the health service providing vaccination and encompasses both physical and human resources. All equipment, facilities and commodities are equally crucial as skilled vaccination health care workers. The presence of the person to be vaccinated is the outcome of the complex demand side part of the immunization system. It entails various aspects of access to vaccination services, ranging from very practical and material issues (e.g. out-reach), over information, communication and support, up to hesitancy, with its constituting building blocks of convenience, confidence and complacency.

Even more, a successful vaccination is not the end-point. Here the feedback kicks off with the assessment of the health outcomes of the vaccination operations. Based on this, vaccination strategies and (inter)national immunization plans are adapted, modified and refined, and are aligned with funding and procurement engagements. At this point sustainability and a long term perspective are at stake which connect back to the R&D and manufacturing aspects of the End-To-End supply network.

As a final remark, a well performing planned immunization system will reduce the frequency of activation of outbreak response mechanisms.

Despite the current focus and intense attention to covid19 response on almost every aspect of vaccine supply, integrated system based research embedding vaccine supply is scarce [1,2]. This Special Issue seeks to address this aspect of vaccine supply chains, in a way to make them more sustainable and resilient to withstand future challenges.

Proposed topics

We intend to include 6 articles in this Special Issue. If the number of high-quality papers exceeds this number the publisher is interested in producing a follow-up issue. We welcome both qualitative and conceptual as well as quantitative and modeling articles that put vaccine supply chains in their broader context. Preferably the papers make an additional contribution on the aspect of sustainability, practical relevance and/or applicability.    

A non-exhaustive list of appropriate areas:

  • Vaccine supply chain design
  • Vaccine supply systems
  • Qualitative vaccine supply system models
  • Quantitative vaccine supply system models
  • Planned immunization supply systems
  • Emergency response immunization supply systems
  • Cross-disciplinary theories, approaches, innovative ideas
  • Human-centered vaccine supply system design
  • Access-to-vaccine services
  • Vaccine demand-side research
  • Impact of vaccine hesitancy on the vaccine supply system 
  • Vaccine supply for out-reach vaccination
  • Last mile vaccination supply
  • Vaccine supply systems in LMICs
  • Cold chain for vaccine supply system
  • Vaccine supply innovations (drones, passive cold chain equipment, dry ice, …)
  • Impact of vaccine development on the vaccine supply system
  • Linking vaccine supply with health impact
  • International funding of vaccine supply systems
  • Vaccine supply chain sustainability


A proposed schedule:

Proposed submission deadlines:

  • Paper submission deadline: August 31, 2021
  • First-round reviews done: October 15, 2021
  • Revisions are done: November 15, 2021
  • Final decisions made: December 31, 2021
  • Special issue published online: April 30, 2022

Note:  Submissions to this journal are through the ScholarOne submission system. Please visit the author guidelines for the journal here.


Guest Editors

Catherine J. Decouttere, Ph.D.

Access-to-Medicines Research Center, KU Leuven

[email protected]

Nico J. Vandaele, Ph.D.

Access-to-Medicines Research Center, KU Leuven

[email protected]



1.      De Boeck K., Decouttere C. and Vandaele N., ‘Vaccine distribution chains in low- and middle-income countries: A literature review’, Omega, 2019, vol. 97, 1-19.

2.      Lemmens S., Decouttere C., Vandaele N. and Bernuzzi M., ‘Integrated supply chain network design models for vaccines: a literature review’, Chemical Engineering Research and Design, 2016, Vol. 109, 366-384.