LINFOX and DHL are to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine to Australians from March, pending government approvals for the vaccine.

The two companies will work with the Department of Health to design and operate a national distribution network. The government says the network will support vaccination for all, including people in rural, remote and very remote areas and others who are hard to reach.

The companies will be required to track and report the temperature of the vaccine at all times. The required temperature could be 2 to 8 degrees to as low as minus 70, which is needed for the Pfizer vaccine.

Purpose-built dry ice containers will be supplied for moving the Pfizer vaccine around Australia, as part of the government’s global distribution deal with Pfizer.

As well as transporting the vaccines from the point of acceptance from manufacturers to vaccination administration sites, the logistics partners will be responsible for transport and management of vaccination supplies such as needles, syringes and personal protective equipment.

While DHL and Linfox will manage the logistics for the operation, Accenture will provide tracking of vaccine doses and overall program implementation monitoring. PwC will be the Department of Health’s program delivery partner for the vaccine rollout.

In a statement, Linfox executive chairman Peter Fox said the company’s cold-chain network includes temperature-controlled distribution centres and cross-dock facilities across Australia.

“We look forward to working closely with the Australian government’s Department of Health, as well as Accenture, PwC and DHL to design and operate a national cold chain distribution network that will safely support Australia’s ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Mr Fox said.

The Australia Government has secured more than 117 million doses to cover the Australian population several times over. The Department of Health said Australia remains on track for first vaccinations in March. It expects the whole population to have received the vaccination in 2021.