Planning for Adequate Staff
School-Located Vaccination (SLV): Information for Planners
Planning for Adequate Staff
Implementing SLV clinics may require staffing capacity that exceeds that of the local public health department (There are several tools available on CDC’s website for planning adequate staff). Because of this, planners should consider recruiting additional staff, both medical and non-medical.
Potential roles and duties for additional, non-public health department staff could include the following (Note: licensure/liability issues are discussed below under “Legal Issues”):
Non-medical, non-public health department staff:
- Assembling, distributing, and collecting vaccine information, consent forms, and other materials
- Communicating with parents/guardians (e.g., to encourage return of consent forms if consent is required prior to the clinic day)
- Assisting with the promotion of the clinics (e.g., placing posters, posting information on school website, communicating with local radio/television/newspaper)
- Assisting with clinic flow and escorting students to and from the vaccination site
- Verifying the identity of each child to be vaccinated to ensure that parental consent was given
- Assisting with the transportation of vaccine and other materials to and from clinic sites
- Providing security
- Tracking and entering vaccination information into immunization registries or other databases.
Medical, non-public health department staff, depending on licensure and training:
- Preparing and/or administering vaccines
- Ensuring that vaccination medical screening eligibility has been met
- Evaluating children for illness when they present to the clinic for vaccination
Potential Sources of Non-public Health Department Staff and Ideas for Recruitment
School staff, including school nurses, teachers and teachers’ assistants, security and maintenance personnel, and other staff, can contribute greatly to the success of a SLV clinic. These staff members are familiar with the students, the school facilities, and the administrative structure of the school. School nurses and teachers may be familiar with students’ personalities, pre-existing health conditions, and their parents/guardians. School nurses, who are present in many, but not all, U.S. elementary and secondary schools, can play a critical role in SLV clinics by answering questions from parents and educating school staff about influenza, the consent process, and the SLV clinic. School nurses can also serve as the liaison between the public health department and the school community.
Although school nurses and other staff are likely to be willing to provide assistance, competing priorities and other school responsibilities may serve to limit their involvement. Roles and responsibilities, and the degree to which school staff are involved in the SLV clinic will vary from school to school and should be determined and defined by partners in advance of the clinic. In many cases, school administrators may determine the roles their staff will play. School officials are encouraged to review collective bargaining agreements (CBAs) with school staff prior to making decisions on how staff are to be utilized.
For each participating school, a liaison or point of contact should be identified through which planning communications should be directed. Identifying such a person has been recognized as a key to the successful implementation of SLV programs (see: National Association of County and City Health Officials [NACCHO] School-located Influenza Immunization School Kit). Regardless of the degree of school staff involvement, the SLV clinic should be viewed as a partnership between staff from public health and the school/school districts, in addition to any other organizations that participate.
The following lists activities for which school and partner organization staff may wish to take responsibility.
- Advertising the SLV clinic, perhaps using materials supplied by the public health department.
- Distributing to parents/guardians (e.g., via students, direct mailings, internet sites, or by other means) informational materials and parental consent forms authorizing their child to be vaccinated, subsequently collecting and tracking the return of consent forms, and following up on students who have not submitted consent forms. These activities may be coordinated by school nurses or by teachers (e.g., for their homeroom class).
- Screening returned consent forms for completeness and ensuring that medical eligibility for vaccination has been verified.
- Identifying a location within the school where informational meetings, training, and the SLV clinic will take place; working with public health staff to establish clinic times/dates.
- On scheduled clinic days, escorting students to and from classrooms to the clinic, verifying the identity of the student to be vaccinated, and ensuring that parental consent has been properly given prior to vaccination.
- Communicating vaccination information to the vaccinee's primary health care provider.
- Alerting the vaccinee and his/her parent/guardian of plans for the administration of the second dose.
It also is important that school staff members are able to answer questions from parents or others about the SLV clinic or direct questions to the appropriate staff member(s). School districts and schools should consider identifying a single spokesperson and also provide information on their websites, to the extent feasible. Questions may be directed to the school superintendent's office, school board members, school nurses, teachers, school secretaries, or others; however, all school staff should be appropriately educated about influenza and the SLV clinics and know where to direct more complex questions.
Temporary employment agencies may be a resource to hire both medical and non-medical staff to assist with SLV clinics.
Other potential staffing sources include private, for-profit organizations, collectively known as commercial community vaccinators (CCV). In addition to supplying temporary staff, CCV also can be hired to plan and conduct SLV clinics. Many of these organizations are experienced in operating influenza vaccination clinics for children and adults. Some have partnered with schools to conduct SLV clinics or worked with local public health departments in partnership with schools. Planners interested in staffing SLV clinics using a commercial group can refer to the following document that defines the different categories of CCVs [24 KB, 1 page].
Volunteers can serve as an excellent source of SLV clinic staff and may even be considered an essential component of an SLV program, depending on the number of SLV clinics planned within a local jurisdiction. Volunteers can fill many roles in SLV clinics, both non-medical and medical.
Parents of school children could be helpful in conducting the SLV clinic. Other groups to consider are fraternal and service organizations, large local employers, area faith groups, medical service organizations, and students from local colleges and professional schools. Law enforcement, hospitals, and for-profit organizations (e.g., local health insurance companies) also may provide staff.
Students of the school or school district where the SLV clinic will take place are another potential source of volunteers. In addition to providing a positive experience for the student volunteers, peer involvement may increase student participation in the program considerably.
For medical staffing needs, planners may consider contacting area colleges that grant degrees in health care-related fields, such as medicine, nursing, dentistry, and pharmacy, to recruit staff, students, or alumni willing to provide assistance with SLV clinics. Planners may also consider soliciting assistance from retired health care professionals. Medical Reserve Corps have also been a source of experienced, credentialed volunteers for many programs.
Challenges of Using Non-public Health Department Staff in SLV Clinics
Challenges of using non-public health department staff in SLV clinics include:
- All SLV clinic staff and volunteers will need to be trained to perform their duties. Working with children is a specific skill which some medical staff may not possess.
- Although not specific to vaccinating children, planners might find the immunization encounters information in the following CDC websites helpful for training purposes: Immunization Courses - Broadcasts, Webcasts, and Self Study, and The Immunization Encounter: Critical Issues, 2008 Resources.
- Schools may require background checks for SLV clinic staff who will be present on school property. Many staff may have already undergone background checks conducted through their organizations. For those who require background checks, the process may be quite lengthy and will vary locally.
- Planners may consider making plans to enable replacement of volunteer staff who are not available at the last minute, especially during local outbreaks of influenza.