US Covid-19 vaccine distribution will start with McKesson

CDC invokes an existing contract option to choose the US’ largest drug distributor


Saying it is “expanding an existing partnership with the Centers for Disease Control,” the Irving, TX firm has announced its designation as the “centralized” distributor of future Covid-19 vaccines. “We are honored that the U.S. government has asked McKesson to play a key role in the effort to distribute COVID-19 vaccines,” said CEO Brian Tyler in a statement.

In all likelihood, multiple other distributors will be involved as well, possibly as vaccines are cross-docked from McKesson facilities to those of other distributors. That is the pattern for the seasonal flu vaccine, where nearly 200 million dosages move rapidly into hospitals, clinics, retail pharmacies and public health facilities each year. One complication of the Covid-19 process is that some or all of the vaccines will require refrigerated (or possibly deep frozen) storage and transport—it depends on which vaccines ultimately are cleared for administration.

McKesson has been the lead distributor of the CDC’s Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), based on a competitive 2016 contract award. VFC provides vaccines for Medicaid and other underinsured children.