Hosting Vaccination Clinics: Best Practices for School Districts and Early Care and Education (ECE) Programs
A Guide for School District and Early Care and Education (ECE) Program Administrators
Schools and early care and education (ECE) programs are a large part of daily life for many children and their families and play an important role in COVID-19 prevention. As a result, schools and ECE programs are uniquely positioned to teach about, link families to, or even assist in delivering COVID-19 vaccines.
Vaccination programs located in schools and ECE centers can help make COVID-19 vaccination as accessible as possible to children.
The information on this page can serve as a roadmap for how school district and ECE program administrators can work directly with health departments and other vaccine providers such as pediatric clinics to set up vaccination clinics in places that children and their families know and trust.
Steps to Hosting a COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic in Your School District or ECE Program
Vaccine providers include local health departments, community health centers, pediatric clinics, pharmacies, children’s hospitals, and other medical providers.
For help with the identification of an appropriate vaccine provider:
- First, you should follow existing guidance, for example, from your local or state health department, regarding who to partner with for vaccination clinics. You can consider partnering with providers you have used for flu vaccination clinics and providers local schools used for COVID-19 vaccination clinics for older children. Schools and ECE programs can contact your state, territorial, local or tribal health department, or Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agencies, following your standard lines of communication, regarding potential partners.
- You can also visit vaccines.gov to identify vaccine providers near you and can contact pharmacies directly to request a vaccination clinic.
While COVID-19 vaccine providers are typically responsible for all clinical operations and reporting, school districts and ECE programs play a critical role in engaging children and their families.
Sample roles and responsibilities:
- Lead engagement and outreach to children and families.
Lessons learned guidance for other school districts provided by Parkway School District in St. Louis County, Missouri, includes:
- Ensuring ample parking
- Working around educational schedules
- Obtaining parental consent
- Training staff
- Managing vaccine delivery and storage
- If an on-campus clinic is requested:
- Provide a clinic location (must be well-ventilated, clean, and spacious enough for social distancing before and during vaccination and for the 15–30-minute observation period after vaccination).
- Provide clinic facilities (e.g., tables, chairs, garbage bins, signage, restrooms).
- Provide an on-site clinic coordinator to liaise with vaccine provider to plan each clinic.
- Provide logistical and administrative support (e.g., security, scheduling support).
- Work with partners to ensure there is a plan for children to receive additional doses at the appropriate interval.
- Establish supportive leave policies for children and staff who get vaccinated.
- Plan for training vaccinators, school or program staff, and others involved in implementing the clinics. Evaluate whether available staff can work with younger children and define the age range for which vaccines will be offered accordingly. See You Call The Shots: Vaccinating Adolescents.
Vaccine Success Stories from the Field
Explore some of the different ways ECE programs are working to ensure positive vaccine experiences. Some programs have become vaccination sites or created partnerships with local pharmacies and health departments to successfully improve their staff’s access to the vaccine.
- Manage aspects of vaccine administrations, including:
- Supplying vaccine
- Scheduling support
- Clinical staffing
- Other requirements
CDC guidance supports coadministration of COVID-19 vaccines with other vaccines ─ including influenza vaccines, without regard to timing.
Determine with your vaccine provider whether your clinics will offer influenza vaccination or other routine vaccinations for children who are behind in their vaccinations because of the pandemic and whether your clinics will offer vaccinations for staff and families.
- Pick a convenient, trusted location for your vaccination clinic.
- Determine the days and hours of operation to allow parents and caregivers with varying work schedules and transportation options the opportunity to accompany their children if desired.
- Discuss options with vaccine providers for hosting clinics at the provider location (e.g., clinic, doctor’s office, or pharmacy) to reduce logistics burden for schools.
- If resources are limited but need to be distributed across multiple schools or ECE programs, consider offering one clinic at a central location for all schools in your district.
As a school district and ECE program administrator, you will play a critical role in engaging schools and facilities in your district or program, and in educating parents.
- Draft letters or use customizable content and letter templates to share information about the upcoming vaccination clinic(s) with teachers, care providers, and families. Include general vaccination information in these communications, especially that COVID-19 vaccines are free for everyone and individuals can receive a vaccine regardless of immigration or insurance status.
- To amplify and engage your community, consider posting on social media, sharing signage, and leveraging trusted messengers in your community.
Outreach strategies by audience
It is important for staff, including teachers, care providers, and administrators, to know what role they play in COVID-19 vaccine-related communication, education, and activities.
- Use workshops, staff meetings, and newsletters to promote staff involvement in COVID-19 vaccination efforts, including sharing resources to encourage all staff to get vaccinated themselves.
- Refer staff to resources to help promote and encourage COVID-19 vaccination of children and teens.
- Ask staff to stress the importance of children getting their well child visits or check-ups with their regular healthcare provider, including their routinely recommended vaccines that may have been missed during the pandemic.
- For children, teens, or adults who worry about vaccination or have a fear of needles, share tips for making shots less stressful and managing fears of needles.
Vaccine confidence is the trust that people have in vaccines. Families in your community may be wading through a lot of information—and misinformation—about COVID-19 vaccinations.
- Be prepared to address questions and address misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine with your students and their families by sharing materials from credible sources.
- Prepare a frequently asked questions (FAQ) document about COVID-19 vaccines for children and teens. Include any planned efforts to vaccinate staff, students, and their families through school vaccine clinics.
- Include COVID-19 vaccine fact sheets with other information given to parents and caregivers and add to school and ECE program websites.
- Announce information about the COVID-19 vaccine and vaccine clinics during school and program events, such as sporting events, assemblies, and holiday gatherings.
- Work with your vaccine provider on the best strategy to obtain parental/guardian consent and to sign up children for clinics. Many providers may have their own scheduling tools and consent forms but will rely on you to share them with parents and guardians.
- Work with the vaccine provider to finalize the operations of your event.
- Continue to engage your community, including day-of reminders.
- Provide a post-vaccination letter to parents with information about potential side effects, timing of the next dose (if relevant), and other important information.
- 6 Ways Schools Can Promote COVID-19 Vaccines
- Considerations for Planning School-Located Vaccination Clinics
- Customizable Content for School-Located Vaccination Clinics
- Guide to Hosting COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics at School (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services)
- Resources for Administering COVID-19 Vaccines at Schools(School-Based Health Alliance)