How Public-Private Partnership Works for Vaccine Administration

The federal and state governments have been working with businesses for vaccine distribution. Here’s what we can expect going forward.


Air Date: March 3, 2021

Moderator: Suzanne P. Clark, President and CEO, U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Featured Guests: Jay Inslee, Governor, Washington State, Brad Smith, President, Microsoft, Shannon Garcia, SVP Operations, Starbucks

The current state of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout is cause for optimism in the United States. The amount of people who are able to get vaccinated, as well as the number of facilities offering vaccines, increases daily. With the current rollout and projections, the country is well on its way to meeting President Biden's expectation of returning closer to normal by July 4.

One of the biggest reasons behind the efficient vaccine rollout is the federal government’s willingness to work with the private sector. In coordinating vaccine distribution, the government has looked towards business partners in order to make their rollout more efficient. Their optimized strategies have helped the U.S. reach its “100 vaccines in 100 days” goal in only 58 days.

An example of this successful partnership can be found in Washington state, as Governor Jay Inslee has worked with local companies such as Microsoft and Starbucks to expedite their vaccine strategy. Here are three insights we know from the public and private sectors working together on vaccine partnerships, according to a recent panel hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

Partnerships with the Private Sector Have Enhanced Washington’s Vaccine Roll Out

Governor Inslee feels lucky to have business leaders in his state that want to be a part of the community effort to distribute vaccines. All of Washington’s private partnerships have helped the state optimize its efforts in different capacities, including Microsoft.

“Microsoft is hosting mass vaccination sites, but also helping with our software dramatically,” said Governor Inslee. “We'd like to have the best user experience to try to get appointments that Microsoft is helping us on. They have pitched in big time, and some of this is on their own nickel because they're a great philanthropist as well as a good business.”

Other Washington-based businesses have pitched in as well.

“Starbucks used their logistical team to dramatically increase the throughput. I was at a [vaccination] site … and they appeared to be a very efficient system when I was there, but Starbucks’s logistical team came in a couple of days later and improved it … [up to] 40% as far as their throughput.”

He added that many companies have been involved in making their system more efficient.

“Kaiser Permanente has helped stand up a logistical system for vaccinating educators so that they can start in earlier dimensions,” he said. “Costco has been very effective in helping us think through a lot of this logistically.”

Artificial Intelligence Is Being Used to Track Vaccine Distribution

One of the ways Microsoft has worked with the federal government is by using artificial intelligence to track vaccine distribution for the U.S. and all across the globe.

“One of the first projects we took on was working with the Washington Department of Health to stand up a data dashboard that is operating today,” said Brad Smith, president of Microsoft. “You can see for each county for or for the state, all the epidemiological curves, the case rates, hospitalization and now vaccines.”

“It is obviously something that is critically dependent on tracking data,” he added. ”Cumulatively, we need to know how we are doing, [and] the public needs to know how its government is doing … I think that's frankly also part of just giving us all a sense of when … normalcy [will] return.”

The Private Sector Doesn’t Expect Special Privilege for Their Help

Just because businesses are aiding the federal government in their efforts doesn't mean they expect to jump the line. When asked if Starbucks plans on setting up their own vaccination site for their employees, Shannon Garcia, SVP of operations at Starbucks, said they would not.

“Our efforts are really on ensuring that we are providing the service and support to our community effort,” she explained. “And quite honestly, we will wait our turn like everybody else.”



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