UPS To Send Nurses For In-Home Vaccinations

United Parcel Service (UPS) is preparing to test a service which will dispatch nurses to vaccinate adults in their homes, according to Reuters

While UPS did not disclose which vaccines would be used in the project, vaccine manufacturer Merck & Co told Reuters it was exploring a partnership. 

The project, previously unreported, shows how UPS is targeting a larger slice of the $85 billion outsourced healthcare logistics market. Deutsche Post’s DHL Group dominates the market, which is expected to grow to $105 billion by 2021. -Reuters

"Over-the-threshold services is where the world is headed," said UPS global healthcare logistics strategy head, Chris Cassidy - who joined the company last year from GlaxoSmithKline. 

He's how the program will operate, per Reuters

"Workers in UPS’ 1.7 million-square-foot healthcare complex at Worldport will package and ship the vaccine to one of the more 4,700 franchised U.S. UPS stores. A home health nurse contracted by UPS’ clinical trial logistics unit known as Marken will collect the insulated package, transport it the “last mile” to the patient’s home and administer the vaccine, which will target a viral illness in adults."

UPS purchased Marken in 2016. CEO Wes Wheeler, who is overseeing the project, says the aim of the test is to "see if we can connect all these dots." 

The move into healthcare comes as the parcel delivery business prepares for a cooling economy as well as competition from Amazon - which is in the process of rolling out its own logistics network in order to cut costs. 

The UPS project is partially aimed at ways to increase adult vaccination rates, however the project faces hurdles - such as how to get medical insurers to pay for the new service. 

Merck, a major UPS healthcare customer, has a portfolio of vaccines for viral illnesses ranging from shingles and hepatitis B to the flu. Spokeswoman Pamela Eisele said the company is considering the project as it looks for new ways to increase access to its medicines and vaccines and boost adult vaccine rates.

Experts said the UPS project could also save money by having contract home nurses, rather than higher paid doctors, administer the vaccine. But the test, a first for a large U.S. shipper, is not a guaranteed slam dunk for UPS: Marken’s CEO said it must figure out how to get medical insurers to pay for the new service. -Reuters

GoFundMe Battles Anti-Vaxxers

While UPS explores mass vaccinations, GoFundMe has banned anti-Vaxxers from their platform, according to the Daily Beast. 

"Campaigns raising money to promote misinformation about vaccines violate GoFundMe’s terms of service and will be removed from the platform," GoFundMe spokesman Bobby Whithorne told the Beast

"We are conducting a thorough review and will remove any campaigns currently on the platform." 

It’s the latest crackdown on fact-challenged activists who believe the medical establishment, the government, and the pharmaceutical industry are engaged in a conspiracy to hurt American children.

The U.S. anti-vax movement has been blamed for two outbreaks of measles that have infected some 300 people—mostly children—in New York and the Pacific Northwest.

Last week, the American Medical Association warned social media giants including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Pinterest, Twitter, and YouTube that they were helping to amplify the propaganda and confuse parents.

But as The Daily Beast has previously reported, anti-vaxxers have also used sites like GoFundMe to underwrite their messaging campaigns. -Daily Beast

Fundraisers benefiting or promoted by anti-vaccination activists - or "vaccine choice" groups raised at least $170,000 over the last four years. Via the Daily Beast: 

  • Prominent anti-vax activist Larry Cook, who spent more money than anyone else boosting his message on Facebook and collected $79,900 on various GoFundMe campaigns.
  • A vaccine exemption attorney’s legal defense fund, which raised $25,220, that was promoted by Health Freedom Idaho and Sarasota for Vaccine Choice.
  • Three campaigns promoted by A Voice for Choice’s Facebook page that raised $39,801.

Vaccine Choice advocate Melissa Sullivan, EVP of Health Choice Connecticut, says that GoFundMe's ban is a "violation of the First Amendment," and suggested that big pharma was behind the decision. 

"Whether you believe it’s true or not, everyone is entitled to their opinion," said Sullivan. "I would hope they would reconsider. This movement needs to be able to get funds in order to fight pharma giants like Merck and other vaccine manufacturers."

$100 Million In Vaccine Injuries YTD

The UPS vaccine push along with GoFundMe's elimination of anti-vaxx voices comes as the US government has paid $100 million in vaccine injuries and deaths year-to-date ($110 million including attorneys' fees) across 240 cases. In total, more than $4 billion has been paid out by the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP) since 1989. 

Between Nov. 16 of last year and Feb 15 of 2019, 80% of injury awards were for the flu shot