The Last Mile Logistics of Vaccine Rollout.

Saras Agrawal
3 min readJan 26, 2021

As vaccines become the future, and most likely one of the most important things of 2021, there are some interesting things that governments will have to overcome in the last mile of vaccine rollout.

In a conference done by the PathCheck Foundation, guest speaker Sanjay Serma talked about this topic. As Vice President for Open Learning at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he has seen logistics play huge roles in other industries, not just vaccines.

“You could get your vaccine and leave, just like you purchased a bottle of Tylenol”

This would be a perfect way that vaccines could be distributed. No centralization or any sort of hindrances in getting the vaccine, as well as no need to upload any personal information. In many aspects, this is how we currently do the flu vaccine. But, of course, this is not how the Covid-19 vaccines will work. The main reason for this is supply.


With a low amount of supply for each country, and huge cost for infrastructure, countries are forced to set up priority vaccination, that has to do with age, health and occupation. This makes it insanely moreover difficult for any country trying to keep a streamlined vaccination route because at that point it becomes the point in which clinics need to verify the eligibility of a person for vaccination and markdown who has been vaccinated. As more of this data accumulates, it becomes harder to keep it decentralized.

Data Centralization

With this need for data from each person for verification and documentation, the push for data centralization is ever-increasing. This is especially bad due to the fact that most of that data is personal information. If governments try to centralize this data, it means huge databases of personal information, which would also be at risk of data theft or fraud. The more fragile data that we store in centralized places, the more dangerous it is that we might lose it, or a security breach might occur.

Person Centralization

Covid-19 vaccines have a life span that ranges from a couple of hours to a couple of days. Because of this short lifespan, vaccinators are looking to get as many people to the clinic while they have the vaccines, in order to use them. This means that clinics will try to get as many people to the clinic in a small-time period, and therefore need a streamlined and efficient certification process to run patients through, in which clinics are going to be leaning towards centralized systems that are accessible, but like we said before are terrible in the sense of security.

PathCheck’s Solution

The Pathcheck Foundation has come up with an interesting plan that keeps data private, but also efficient. Check out the article here. In basis, they are using card and QR based verification for eligibility, vaccine dose, and verification. Each person has a card that contains a QR code. All the vaccinator has to do is scan the QR, and they would be able to see all the information they need, without getting or uploading it to a centralized system. Am easy, efficient and safe way to distribute vaccines. Sounds perfect. Now we just need governments to implement it.

As well all of these findings can we explored, in their paper they recently published (as me as a contributor). If you have questions you can email either me or Ramesh Raskar. Check out PathCheck
Thank you for reading and make sure you stay safe!

Before you go:

I’m Saras, an aspiring innovator, who loves to explore and learn. Student at The Knowledge Society. Science & Tech & Ethics & Philosophy. I also post semi-weekly. Ish. Consider subscribing?



Saras Agrawal

Currently working in the BCI startup space. Learning, Exploring, Creating, Teaching.