What to Consider When Planning to Operate a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic

“The federal government — in partnership with state and local governments — will create as many venues for vaccination as needed in communities and settings that people trust.”

The National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, p.9

Administering the COVID-19 vaccine to people in all communities across the United States is dependent on having multiple vaccination sites that are both convenient and accessible.

For jurisdictions, this task is an iterative and ongoing process that requires strategic planning.

On this page, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shares strategies jurisdictions can use to plan, optimize, and maximize operations at all types of temporary COVID-19 vaccination clinics.

Things to Consider When Planning COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

Mass Clinic Guidance
woman with a giant pencil on her shoulder next to a marked checklist on a clipboard paper.

Guidance for assisting with jurisdictional planning and implementation of satellite, temporary, or off-site vaccination clinics by public and private vaccination organizations.

While pharmacies, public health clinics, and medical facilities will continue to serve as the primary venues for COVID-19 vaccination efforts, jurisdictions should also plan for and use other venues.

  • Conduct a gap analysis to determine specific geographic areas and specific populations that may benefit from additional sites to improve access to vaccination—especially for hard-to-reach populations or populations that do not have access to established vaccination sites.
  • Work with community leaders and trusted members of the community to help with the success of vaccination clinics.
  • Assess the optimal time to activate a vaccination site and consider the benefits of focused vaccination efforts.
  • Use the Checklist of Best Practices for Vaccination Clinics Held at Satellite, Temporary, or Off-Site Locations which includes CDC guidelines and best practices essential for patient safety and vaccine effectiveness and guidance for vaccine shipment, transport, storage, handling, preparation, administration, and documentation at temporary clinics.

Additional COVID-19 vaccination site planning considerations:

How to Optimize and Scale COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

If large venues will be used to vaccinate a significant proportion of the population, start with a smaller-scale operation located within a large-venue vaccination site. This “ramp-up” approach can:

  • Test workflow, protocols, and procedures
  • Train of volunteers and staff
  • Fine-tune patient traffic flow
  • Improve readiness for larger vaccination operations

Early advertising of the “soft opening” will let the public know about vaccination activities in the venue.

Key considerations for opening a COVID-19 vaccination clinic:

  • Calibrate the amount of COVID-19 vaccine doses sent to the venue and carefully match the daily projected uptake in vaccination to avoid wasting doses.
  • Conduct daily assessments of appointments booked and potential need for COVID-19 vaccines before doses are transported to off-site locations.
  • Store and prepare COVID-19 vaccines at the vaccination site. CDC has issued detailed guidance in the Vaccine Storage and Handling Toolkit. There may be significant operational efficiencies that support a separation of the vaccine preparation steps (and staff) from vaccine administration to the recipient.

How to Maximize Operations at COVID-19 Vaccination Sites

Administration at both large-scale and focused COVID-19 vaccination sites is needed when vaccine supply is plentiful.

Expanding operations, activating new sites, and improving vaccine equity to maximize the number of people who receive the COVID-19 vaccine is the goal.

Key considerations for maximizing output at COVID-19 vaccination sites: