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In 2020, United Drug was chosen by the Irish Government to be the sole distributor of Covid-19 vaccines. As Ireland’s leading pharmaceutical distribution company, United Drug rose to the challenge of scaling and adapting its already robust network in a very short time scale to account for the greatest medical challenge in the history of the State and have been responsible for supplying each and every Covid-19 vaccine to vaccination centres, nursing homes, hospitals, GPs, and pharmacies across the country since the beginning of the vaccine roll-out in December 2020.

The company has been supporting public immunisation programmes since 2007 and is highly experienced in the management of vaccines. However, in this instance, it was necessary to further enhance the state-of-the-art logistics infrastructure to accommodate the Covid-19 vaccine candidates, including the storage of ultra-low (-70 deg) temperature vaccine (Pfizer BioNTech) and other vaccines which are stored under Freezer (-20 deg) temperature (Moderna and Janssen), in addition to AstraZeneca, which is stored refrigerated (+2 to +8deg).

While the vaccine rollout started slowly due to initial supply constraints, as of the end of August, 2021, Ireland boasts one of the highest vaccinated population percentages in the world.

The teams at United Drug are very proud of the part they have played in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out. Operations, Quality, Distribution and Customer Services teams have all worked around the clock to make sure that vaccines were distributed in a safe and timely manner. They are grateful for the strong collaboration with the many stakeholders involved in the successful implementation of this campaign.

It has required a United effort to get over 6.6 million doses into the arms of the Irish population to help to bring a bit of normalcy to our daily lives. The role United Drug plays in the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out isn’t over yet, with the potential for booster activity coinciding with the roll-out of the annual flu jab. United Drug undoubtedly has the expertise and infrastructure to be ready for future requirements on vaccines and other medications, wherever and whenever they are needed.

Pharmacies will continue to provide a critical role in the community as de facto primary care centres. This has been evidenced by their involvement in administering Covid vaccines. They have shown great commitment to community health by taking on the responsibility of providing jabs to hundreds of thousands of people at short notice. They are an ongoing, precious resource that can provide many primary care requirements, including vaccines, and are free, quick, and readily available.