Immunization Specialist (Cold Chain Logistics & Vaccine Management), P-3, Fixed Term, Polio Eradication Programme, Geneva, Switzerland

Note: UNICEF Geneva is currently undergoing organizational changes; therefore, the job location of the post is still under consideration. Selected candidates may commence duties remotely until the location is finalized.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. To save their lives. To defend their rights. To help them fulfill their potential.

Across 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, every day, to build a better world for everyone.

And we never give up.

For every child, a future

The fundamental mission of UNICEF is to promote the rights of every child, everywhere, in everything the organization does — in programmes, in advocacy and in operations. The equity strategy, emphasizing the most disadvantaged and excluded children and families, translates this commitment to children’s rights into action. There is growing evidence that investing in the health, education and protection of a society’s most disadvantaged citizens — addressing inequity — not only will give all children the opportunity to fulfill their potential but also will lead to sustained growth and stability of countries.

Polio eradication is a corporate priority for UNICEF globally. Although there are only two remaining countries where polio is still endemic, countries remain at risk of polio outbreaks which need to be managed as a public health emergency. UNICEF has committed itself in front of partners, donors, and national governments to continue the work on polio eradication until the goal is reached. Unfortunately, the number and scale of polio outbreaks has continued to exceed expectations. As well, the quality and speed of immunization response activities in most of the key outbreak countries remain sub-optimal to stop transmission and to avoid reseeding the virus.

The Geneva based polio outbreak response work stream of the UNICEF polio team provides oversight, quality assurance, technical assistance and knowledge management to country offices in the field, with particular emphasis on communication for social and behavior change and vaccine management within an outbreak context. Vaccine management support to countries becomes particularly important when type 2 virus containing live vaccines (mOPV2/nOPV2/tOPV) are used to respond to an outbreak as these vaccines need to be used under strict and unique containment procedures. As such there is a critical need for the deployment of experienced vaccine management experts to support countries experiencing an outbreak to assess the adequacy of response activities and to provide any necessary support to outbreaks as guided by the response requirements.

As a key partner in the effort to eradicate polio, UNICEF is currently scaling up its human resource capacity as part of a global rapid response team to provide immediate vaccine management expertise to countries which must respond quickly to a polio outbreak. The Immunization Specialist will work under the general guidance and supervision of the Cold Chain Logistics (CCL) Manager, Polio Outbreaks, in collaboration with the Senior Manager, Polio Outbreaks and the regional and country teams.

The position is created in the polio outbreak team, with an expectation that there would be a high component of travel. The team member would be working as part of the polio outbreak rapid response team and would be subject to deployment to support outbreak response countries on short notice. The incumbent will travel at least 80% of their time to support outbreak response and preparedness activities where needed.

How can you make a difference?

Under the general guidance of the Cold Chain Logistics (CCL) Manager in the Geneva based Polio Outbreak response team and in collaboration with regional and country management, you will be working as a member of the polio rapid response team (RRT) and be deployed to polio outbreak countries, according to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative’s outbreak response standard operating procedures and relevant technical guidelines. Furthermore, you will be responsible for planning, managing, monitoring and evaluating cold chain logistics and vaccine management activities in support of the country programmes, with a specific focus on type 2 virus containing live vaccine use under containment procedures. The team member will also support GPEI’s outbreak response assessments and technical support missions based on need.

Key functions and accountabilities include the following: 

  1. Support to strategy design and development of VM activities in an outbreak country context
  • Conduct and/or participate in Cold Chain Logistics (CCL) and Vaccine Management situation analysis using available data sources and assessment reports (e.g. nOPV2 readiness plan, Effective Vaccine Management Assessment, cold chain inventory, Cold Chain Equipment Optimization Plan application documents, temperature monitoring and mapping study reports) in the country/region, including interviews through national/subnational logistics working groups or committees. Assess/synthesize qualitative and quantitative information, data and evidence to support the establishment of comprehensive and evidence-based information for developing and planning the CCL and VM interventions both for polio outbreak response, maintenance and routine immunization strengthening.
  • Participate in outbreak response planning and reviews to contribute to discussions on the underlying and contextual issues which have led to an outbreak and need to be addressed as part of outbreak response activities. (e.g. stock management, temperature management, recording, reporting and vaccine accountability). Ensure the successful and sustainable delivery of programme results and provide technical recommendations on approaches, strategies and plans of action for VM to improve outbreak response activities.
  • Together with country offices and VM focal points across the in-country partners, particularly the national authorities, prepare a national logistics response plan to ensure optimum impact, scale and sustainability of achievements/results.
  1. Implementation of vaccine management activities
  • Train staff and partners to support CCL and VM in outbreak response in accordance with the technical guidance and SOPs.
  • Facilitate the distribution and optimal use of vaccines and consumables according to macro- and micro-plans.
  • Ensure the proper storage of vaccines and consumables at each level of the supply chain.
  • Ensure good temperature management procedures are followed.
  • Collect and analyze vaccine stock and utilization status at all levels of the supply chain after each round.
  • In the case of type 2 virus containing OPV SIAs, provide technical assistance to the MoH and GPEI partners to ensure compliance with procedures, such as:
  • At the end of each round, all open and unusable vaccine vials are disposed and reported in accordance with WHO and/or national guidelines and all unopened and usable vials are recovered at a predetermined store in the supply chain for later use;
  • Independent Vaccine Monitoring activities are well coordinated
  • Provide frequent and regular reports to the Ministry of Health on all aspects of vaccine management, cold chain logistics and contribute to the drafting of SITREPS and bulletins.
  • Prepare reports according to GPEI requirements.
  • Support outbreak response assessment teams (OBRAs) with information related to vaccine management, logistics and the cold chain.
  1. Technical and operational support
  • Collaborate with UNICEF programme colleagues, supply division, country offices, regional offices and/or WHO colleagues to contribute to the development of strategies, approaches, policies and the planning of CCL and VM initiatives (e.g. CCEOP, EVMA, Temperature Mapping and Temperature Monitoring studies) in support of outbreak response.
  • Provide support to the UNICEF country office to lead the development of the polio outbreak response budget planning aligned with the polio outbreak standard operating
  • procedures and technical guidelines. Support the country office to prepare financial plan for VM activities. Monitor/track the use of resources as planned and verify compliance with organizational guidelines, rules and regulations and standards of ethics and transparency.
  • Provide support to GPEI’s outbreak response assessments and technical support missions
  1. Advocacy, networking and partnership building
  • Build and strengthen strategic partnerships with government counterparts, national stakeholders and global partners/allies/donors/academia through active networking, advocacy and effective communication to build capacity, exchange knowledge/expertise and/or promote cooperation and alliances to achieve outbreak response goals.
  • Collaborate with internal global/regional Effective Vaccine Management (EVM) initiative partners to harmonize, link and/or coordinate outbreak response activities within the global standards.
  • Participate in organizational and/or inter-agency outbreak response planning and preparation discussions to inform partners and advocate for necessary vaccine management and containment activities.
  1. Innovation, knowledge management and capacity building
  • Promote critical thinking and innovative approaches and good practices for rapidly responding to outbreaks.
  • Implement innovative practices, approaches and appropriate technology on cold chain logistics and vaccine management activities.
  • Institutionalize/share best practices and knowledge learned/products with global/local partners and stakeholders to build capacity of practitioners and disseminate these products to key audiences including donors and partners.
  • Organize/implement capacity building initiatives to enhance the competencies of clients/stakeholders/partners (government and non-government) in cold chain logistics and vaccine management planning, implementation and evaluation in support of programmes/projects including in humanitarian settings.

To qualify as an advocate for every child you will have…

  • An Advanced university degree in logistics management, supply chain, health logistics or other health-related fields (pharmacy, engineer).
    *A first University Degree in a relevant field combined with 2 additional years of professional experience may be accepted in lieu of an Advanced University Degree.
  • A minimum of 5 years of professional experience at national and international level in EPI logistics management (Cold Chain, Vaccine Management, Waste Management), vaccination campaign logistics management.
  • Additional training in logistics, cold chain or related areas as an asset.
  • Relevant experience in a UN system agency or organization is considered as an asset.
  • Experience working in a developing country is considered as an asset.
  • Field experience of mOPV2/nOPV2 management will be an asset.
  • Fluency in both English and French is required. Knowledge of another official UN language (Arabic, Chinese, Russian or Spanish) is considered an asset.

For every Child, you demonstrate…

UNICEF’s values of Care, Respect, Integrity, Trust, and Accountability (CRITA) and core competencies in Communication, Working with People and Drive for Results.

The UNICEF competencies required for this post are…

  • Demonstrates Self Awareness and Ethical Awareness (1)
  • Works Collaboratively with others (1)
  • Builds and Maintains Partnerships (1)
  • Innovates and Embraces Change (1)
  • Thinks and Acts Strategically (1)
  • Drives to achieve impactful results (1)
  • Manages ambiguity and complexity (1)

Functional Competencies:

  • Persuading and Influencing [2]
  • Applying technical Knowledge [2]
  • Planning and organization[2]

To view our competency framework, please visit here.

Click here to learn more about UNICEF’s values and competencies.

UNICEF is committed to diversity and inclusion within its workforce, and encourages all candidates, irrespective of gender, nationality, religious and ethnic backgrounds, including persons living with disabilities, to apply to become a part of the organization.

UNICEF has a zero-tolerance policy on conduct that is incompatible with the aims and objectives of the United Nations and UNICEF, including sexual exploitation and abuse, sexual harassment, abuse of authority and discrimination. UNICEF also adheres to strict child safeguarding principles. All selected candidates will be expected to adhere to these standards and principles and will therefore undergo rigorous reference and background checks. Background checks will include the verification of academic credential(s) and employment history. Selected candidates may be required to provide additional information to conduct a background check.


Mobility is a condition of international professional employment with UNICEF and an underlying premise of the international civil service.

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted and advance to the next stage of the selection process.

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