From the lab to the arm: learn about the Ministry of Health’s Covid-19 vaccine trail in Brazil.


Strict quality control, checking of vials, temperature analysis, flight planning: each Covid-19 vaccine that arrives in the arms of Brazilians is the result of a complex distribution process, coordinated by the Ministry of Health.

The work is done by teams from the Ministry of Health, the National Immunization Program (PNI) and the Logistics Department. The goal is to ensure that the vaccines reach all the states with agility and within quality parameters.

There are several steps from the moment the laboratories deliver the batches of vaccines. Learn about these steps below.


Step 1 - Arrival of the doses

For vaccines manufactured by international laboratories, the distribution process begins with the release of the cargo by the IRS, called “clearance”, made, exceptionally, even before landing. Immediately, the batches are sent to the Distribution Center of Strategic Inputs of the Ministry of Health, located in the city of Guarulhos, state of São Paulo.

The vaccines produced on national soil arrive in two ways. Astrazeneca’s doses are delivered by Fiocruz to the Ministry of Health’s logistics operator in the city of Rio de Janeiro. The Instituto Butantan’s vaccines are received directly at the Distribution Center, in Guarulhos.

Step 2 - Dataloggers

The temperature monitors, called dataloggers, accompany the immunizers of various origins throughout the journey until they reach Brazil. The devices record important data to verify if the doses have undergone any temperature variation on the way. It is this information, among others, that needs to be submitted for approval to the National Health Surveillance Agency (Anvisa).

Step 3 - Vaccines Released

It is necessary to ensure that the doses are within the expected quality. The imported vaccines are only sent to the states after Anvisa issues the Term of Custody and Responsibility (TGRP).

At the same time, the shipments are also analyzed by the National Institute for Quality Control in Health (INCQS), in Rio de Janeiro.

All these steps, from the time of arrival in Brazil until release for distribution, take, on average, between 2 and 3 days.

In the case of vaccines manufactured in Brazil, only the INCQS analyzes the batches. After delivery from the laboratories, the vaccines are stored as directed by each manufacturer and are released after the Institute’s favorable opinion.

Step 4 - Distribution Schedule

While the previous steps are taking place to get the doses ready for shipment, the Ministry of Health is working to organize the distribution process.

All decisions need to be agreed upon by the states, cities, and the Union.

About 3 times a week, or as needed, these meetings guide how the next distribution of vaccines will be. At this moment, immunization strategies are discussed, for which target audience the doses will be destined, the amount each state should receive, the percentage for the first and second dose, among other.

Step 5 - Distribution Operation


After these shared decisions have been made, the Ministry of Health releases the distribution schedule so that the Logistics Department can prepare the operation. The logistics operator is responsible for scheduling flights or ground transportation and scheduling delivery to the states. Each state is responsible for distributing the doses to the cities. Within 48 hours, the operation is set up and the states receive the immunizers.

Step 6 - Vaccine application

So far, more than 74% of the target public (160 million Brazilians) have been vaccinated with the first dose and 37% have completed the vaccination cycle.

To make the vaccine distribution process even more transparent, the Ministry of Health has launched a platform, updated daily, where the entire population can follow each step in the distribution of doses.

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