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Vaccine supply in the Dutch Caribbean

The RIVM Department for Vaccine Supply and Prevention Programmes (DVP) is responsible for the purchase and distribution of vaccines for the National Immunisation Programme (RVP). In 2014, preparations were made to supply vaccines to the Dutch Caribbean so that Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius receive the same vaccines as in the Netherlands under the immunisation programme. In addition to the logistics, DVP also set up a quality system for the islands. Vaccines will be supplied as from mid-2015.


On 10 October 2010, Bonaire, Saba and St Eustatius (Dutch Caribbean) became special municipalities within the Netherlands. Shortly after that date, the Public Health Act became applicable, entitling children in the Dutch Caribbean to the same immunisation programme as children in the Netherlands. Since the beginning of 2014, DVP has been advising on setting up the vaccine supply chain. As a result, the Minister for Health decided that DVP will supply the vaccines from the Netherlands to the Dutch Caribbean, and set up the quality system on the islands, thus safeguarding the continuity and quality of the national immunisation programme for the whole country. The project started in 2014.

Mother and child 


As set out in the Medicines Act, storage and distribution of medicines must meet the guidelines of the Good Distribution Practice (GDP). All parties in the logistics chain must meet these guidelines in order to ensure the quality of medicines up until they reach the end-users, the patients.  A key aspect of product quality is the correct temperature condition. Vaccines have to be kept at all times at a temperature between 2 and 8 oC. They are transported by air from the cool Netherlands to the tropical Dutch Caribbean. To ensure the correct temperature in these conditions, the vaccines are packed in insulating material with the right number of cooling elements.


As well as ensuring the vaccines arrive in the Dutch Caribbean in good quality via the correct transport, they must also be managed correctly. For this purpose, a quality system has been set up conforming to the GDP guidelines including the various registration forms. These forms are used by staff to accurately record all actions, such as receipt and use of the vaccines, and any deviations in these processes. This is essential for the traceability of vaccines. The quality system has been set up so that it is accessible and easy for staff on the islands to continue using after they have received training.

When DVP has completed the quality system, it will be handed over to the contact person on each of the islands. The islands are responsible for the quality of their own processes in the same way as child health centres are in the Netherlands.