COVID Category Management – Vaccine does NOT equal Vaccinations


There is great news for the world – a number of COVID vaccines are going through the approval process and they all look promising.  Creating a vaccine is merely the first challenge (even though the most critical) and now creating the supply chains to manufacture enough doses and then to ship them to where they are needed will be the next biggest challenges.  Some of them require extreme cold chains the likes of which have never existed.  The various supplies needed to carry off a never attempted before massive vaccination campaign will need to be supplied.  But all of these pale into insignificance in the face of ADOPTION.  Unless and until we can get enough people to actually line up and get the shots, all of these efforts will have been in vain and we will remain far far away from normalcy.  And that my friends, will be the biggest challenge of them all.  If you think getting people to wear masks was a problem– you ain’t seen nutting yet!!

Let’s start with a little historical perspective on this challenge of Adoption – it’s been around for a verrrrrry long time.

  • Joseph Lister introduced antiseptic surgery in Scotland in 1867 – saving thousands of lives
  • Despite the demonstrated results there is no adoption in the U.S. Or England
  • President Jams Garfield dies in 1881 due to disregard of sterile surgical conditions
  • Public outcry causes adoption in the late 1880s

Here is another example:

  • In 1955 a public health worker was tasked with the implementation of water boiling Las Molinas, Peru to obtain higher health and wellness levels
  • Residents had no knowledge of the link between proper sanitation and reduced levels  of illness
  • Culturally, water was boiled only for sick people
  • Healthy residents boiling their water prior to consumption was frowned upon and socially unacceptable
  • The new process was NOT adopted and public health was not improved

How long does Adoption take?  These are not the numbers you want to see.

. . . . 15 to 25 years across an industry

. . . . four to five years within a single organization

 . . . ten years to reach a 25% adoption

And the current numbers around Adoption of any new vaccine are fairly dismal.  Depending on which study you look at, the highest number is around 40% which means 60% of the people are not ready to take the vaccine.  Reaching herd immunity (not referencing the Swedish model here) with that level of Adoption will take a long time.  And remember that this virus does not respect artificial or natural borders and barriers.  Therefore, the supply chain challenges AND the bigger Adoption challenges are global in nature.  I don’t mean to rain on the parade and am as stricken with pandemic fatigue as all of you, but I do need to stick to the basic principles of risk management – for my sake as well as yours 😊.

So, while we should celebrate the record speed at which the vaccines have been developed, you can tell that the experts know the Adoption challenges ahead are even more critical than the cold chain challenges.  This is similar to initiatives and projects declaring success when implemented when in fact Adoption has not even begun and the actual value (herd immunity) is far, far away.

You may remember this slide

The experts know that the true cost (challenges) of getting from vaccine to vaccinated or Adoption are still ahead of us.  Therefore, we also need to plan accordingly – personally and professionally.  The news about vaccines is great news.  We need to use it to recharge our batteries and focus on the when and how we get to herd immunity.  Please stay safe.



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