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Industry Prepared for COVID-19 Vaccine

Published in: The Journal of Healthcare Contracting

Chaun Powell, group vice president of strategic supplier engagement at Premier Inc., said that Premier members anticipate having enough needles and syringes to get through flu season and COVID-19 vaccines. “Lead indicators show that providers and supply chain stakeholders are taking the right measures and steps to be prepared,” he said.

“Over the next 18 months, we, as a nation, will have contracted to create more than 870 million syringes above normal production, which exceeds 5 billion syringes for the acute domestic healthcare industry alone. In addition, the private sector is also ramping up its production output. Assuming there are no unforeseen external variables, we anticipate having enough syringes.”

The situation with needles and syringes differs from that faced with N95s earlier in the year, he added. “With N95s, we, as a country, went from a national consumption rate (specific to acute healthcare) of approximately 25 million masks annually to over 300 million. The twelve-fold increase was unsustainable. With syringes, our baseline is 5 billion consumed annually in the acute space. Adding another 800+ million syringes indicates an approximate 20% increase, but it is no comparison to the twelve-fold impact we saw with masks.” What’s more, the U.S. healthcare supply chain has had the time and foresight to increase production and inventories of needles and syringes, he said.

Premier members express confidence that their physician practices will have enough needles and syringes to meet upcoming demand, added Powell. “In our June survey of acute care members, we asked our members how adequate they felt their inventory of vaccines was in physician offices. Eighty-three percent said they had an adequate supply, and in fact, a small number (2%) noted they were overstocked due to the decrease in other procedures.”

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