SARS-CoV-2 vaccines will be deployed to countries with limited immunization systems.
We assessed the effect of deploying SARS-Cov-2 vaccines on cold storage capacity and immunization workload in a simulated WHO African Region country using region-specific data on immunization, population, healthcare workers (HCWs), cold storage capacity (quartile values for national and subnational levels), and characteristics of an approved SARS-CoV-2 vaccine. We calculated monthly increases in vaccine doses, doses per vaccinator, and cold storage volumes for four-month SARS-CoV-2 vaccination campaigns targeting risk groups compared to routine immunization baselines.
Administering SARS-CoV-2 vaccines to risk groups would increase total monthly doses by 27.0% for ≥ 65 years, 91.7% for chronic diseases patients, and 1.1% for HCWs. Assuming median nurse density estimates adjusted for absenteeism and proportion providing immunization services, SARS-CoV-2 vaccination campaigns would increase total monthly doses per vaccinator by 29.3% for ≥ 65 years, 99.6% for chronic diseases patients, and 1.2% for HCWs. When we applied quartiles of actual African Region country vaccine storage capacity, routine immunization vaccine volumes exceeded national-level storage capacity for at least 75% of countries, but subnational levels had sufficient storage capacity for SARS-CoV-2 vaccines for at least 75% of countries.
In the WHO African Region, SARS-CoV-2 vaccination campaigns would substantially increase doses per vaccinator and cold storage capacity requirements over routine immunization baselines. Pandemic vaccination campaigns would increase storage requirements of national-level stores already at their limits, but sufficient capacity exists at subnational levels. Immediate attention to strengthening immunization systems is essential to support pandemic responses.