• Scholarly report

Influenza vaccine Who buys it and who sells it. Issue brief

The process by which influenza vaccine is purchased and distributed is highly complex and unlike that of other vaccines, which lack seasonality. Influenza vaccine purchase and distribution involves numerous entities and different channels, many of which are little understood outside the vaccine industry. This issue brief summarizes the process and provides a more in-depth understanding of the challenges and potential solutions for facilitating an influenza vaccine purchase and distribution system whose goal is to protect the public’s health.

Key issues of influenza vaccine purchase and distribution include

- multiple means of purchase. Influenza vaccine is purchased by numerous entities including providers and distributors—including the federal and state governments.
- multiple means of distribution. Wholesalers include medical-surgical distributors, pharmaceutical distributors, and redistributors.
- vulnerabilities inherent in the current supply chain. Many wholesalers are so concerned about the problems created by an unreliable influenza vaccine supply that they question their continued role in influenza vaccine distribution.
- the link between sellers, buyers, demand, and supply. Influenza vaccine purchase, distribution, demand, and supply are all interrelated and associated with financial risks that are unique to influenza vaccine.


Layton, C., & West, N. (2005). Influenza vaccine: Who buys it and who sells it. Issue brief. (Prepared for Office of Science and Data Policy, Department of Health and Human Services, Washington, DC). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI International.