In conversation with Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

This week, United Parcel Service had the nation’s first shipping of vaccines to Liberia. While vaccine delivery is relatively new for the company, the mission is a tangible way to help parents get vaccines to children in need, especially those living in areas with health facilities and transportation challenges.

My nephew and daughter’s father is getting measles and is worried about Ebola. How does this sit with you?

… We understand where the concern is coming from and we understand the fear. This is a new product for the company and we’re rolling it out. We’re the first shipping company in the world to start shipping vaccines … and we’re taking an interest in education. We’re working with the World Health Organization and other institutions to make sure that the vaccine will be safe and good for the people who receive it.

We get to a new location that is not accessible — or accessible under a certain safety condition. What we do is make sure that there is proper conditions at the packing station, including a trained and certified packing attendant, a sweeping and cleaner to make sure there is no dirt or rodents that can come in during the packing process. We do all the things that make the processes both safe and quality for the people who receive these vaccines.

How did you reach this milestone?

We decided to do it when we had polio vaccines that were required by the World Health Organization in Nigeria and the United States … And when they became unavailable from other sources, we said, “Let’s have these vaccines shipped from the United States.”

Can you clarify what is considered safe for people to receive vaccines?

We have standards that we’re working to meet that are based on international best practices. We have an international working group that works with U.S. representatives and ministers of health and with major outbreaks agencies, such as WHO, to set standards for standards for vaccines … some are manufactured here in the United States, but many are also produced in other places around the world.

A hundred percent of our active vaccine deliveries are now certified by the World Health Organization and by officials from the African Union.

How do you know if they are safe?

When we’re looking at a vaccine, we try to think of two things: We think of the safety of the system; we look at the regulation. And then we take additional steps, both around this vaccine and many vaccines, whether it’s antibiotics or medications we’re delivering.

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