Front Desk User Manual

As front desk staff, you are the first person vaccine recipients see at the clinic. You will use VAMS to perform tasks such as checking in recipients, creating walk-in appointments, and canceling appointments. Your role in VAMS is critical to the clinic’s success.

The table below illustrates the activities that only you, as front desk staff, can perform in VAMS and some that you share with other users.

VAMS Role and Activity Matrix
Activity Front Desk Healthcare Professional Clinic Administrator Inventory Manager (optional)
Serve as the clinic point of contact (POC) for your jurisdiction. (Typically, the clinic administrator serves as the clinic POC.) checkmark image
Manage clinic information (e.g., shipping address). checkmark image
Set and manage clinic schedule. checkmark image
Manage (add, edit, and remove) VAMS clinic users. checkmark image
Manage clinic COVID-19 vaccine inventory. checkmark image checkmark image
Check in vaccine recipients. checkmark image
Create walk-in and future vaccine recipient appointments. checkmark image
Cancel vaccine recipient appointments. checkmark image checkmark image
Confirm vaccine recipient identity. checkmark image checkmark image
Add and edit vaccine recipients in VAMS. checkmark image checkmark image
(Edit only)
Administer and log vaccination (vaccine information, outcome, and waste if applicable). checkmark image
View vaccine recipient next-dose eligibility date(s) (if applicable). checkmark image
Section 1: Manage Recipients and Appointments

Now that you have activated your VAMS account, you can use VAMS to complete your everyday front desk tasks, including checking in recipients and managing their appointments.

The boxes below are clickable links to the corresponding sections in this user manual.

Check In Vaccine Recipients

Recipient Check-in

Check in recipients manually or with a QR (quick response) code and verify their identity.

Manage Recipient Appointments

Manage Recipient Appointments

Check appointment status and cancel appointments for recipients.

Search For and Edit Recipients

Search for an existing recipient to schedule a walk-in or future appointment, or to edit their recipient record.

Add New Recipients

Add a new recipient in VAMS.

Schedule Recipient Appointments

Schedule a walk-in or future appointment for a recipient.

Recipient Check-in

As front desk staff, your main responsibility is checking in vaccine recipients. The process of checking in a recipient includes verifying their appointment in VAMS, confirming their identity, and confirming they have completed the required documents. The check-in process must be completed before the healthcare professional can administer vaccine to a recipient.

The first step to check in a recipient is to find their appointment in VAMS. You can find recipients by either scanning their appointment QR code or by manually searching. Review the sections below to learn how to perform these actions.

Frequently Asked Questions

No, you must register as a recipient to schedule a vaccination appointment or create a walk-in appointment.

To register as a recipient, your clinic’s administrator must request your jurisdiction’s POC to add your clinic in VAMS as an organization. Once your clinic is added as an organization in VAMS, and your clinic’s employer coordinator adds you as an employee of that organization, you will receive an email from VAMS (vams@cdc.gov) with a link to register as a recipient. This email is sent to the same email address you use to log into VAMS.

  • Click that link and follow the prompts in VAMS to complete your recipient registration.
  • Once registered, log into VAMS and you will see the portal selection page. Click Clinic Portal for your clinic staff duties or Recipient Portal to schedule your own appointment as a recipient.

See Section 2: Additional VAMS Functionality in your user manual for step-by-step help.

Use QR Code to Find Recipient Appointment in VAMS

The recipient receives a unique QR code after scheduling their appointment.

  • Use a mobile device to scan the recipient’s QR code. If you are logged into VAMS on the mobile device, scanning the QR code will take you to the recipient’s appointment record in VAMS. If you are not logged into VAMS on the mobile device, the log-in screen will appear, and you will need to log in before accessing the recipient’s appointment record.
  • After finding the recipient’s appointment in the table, click the recipient’s name.

NOTE: 2D barcode scanners are not compatible with QR codes and cannot be used to scan and check in recipients.

Manually Find Recipient Appointment in VAMS

You can manually search for appointments if the QR code is unavailable, or you do not have a barcode scanner. Follow the steps below to manually search for appointments:

  • Go to the Appointments table on the Recipient Check-In tab.
  • Use the drop-down in the table header to filter appointments scheduled for today, the next seven days, future appointments, or cancelled appointments. You also can sort appointments in the table by clicking any of the column headers to order the rows by those criteria.
  • Or you may search for an appointment by entering the recipient’s name or email address in the search bar at the top right of the appointments table. Note that you can search the recipient’s full name, or just the beginning of their name. For example, you can find the appointment for a recipient named William Smith by searching for “Will.”
  • After finding the recipient’s appointment in the table, click the recipient’s name.

Prevaccination Questionnaire Completion

The recipient must complete the Prevaccination Questionnaire before receiving their vaccination.

The system will indicate if the recipient has completed their Prevaccination Questionnaire. VAMS will allow you to check in a recipient who has not completed their Prevaccination Questionnaire. Please refer to your clinic’s check-in procedure to determine whether you should check in recipients who have not completed their Prevaccination Questionnaire.

Recipients should receive a notification prior to their appointment with a link to the questionnaire. Depending how far in advance the recipient scheduled their appointment, they should have received their notification within 15–20 minutes of appointment confirmation or 12 hours prior to their appointment time.

If the recipient completed the questionnaire, “The Recipient has completed the Prevaccination Questionnaire” will appear on the Validate Recipient screen. If they have not completed the questionnaire, you will be directed to a screen telling you “Recipient has not yet completed the Prevaccination Questionnaire,” and asking you to choose between one of the two options below prior to checking in the recipient:

  1. The recipient will log into their VAMS account or check their email to complete their Prevaccination Questionnaire.
  2. The healthcare provider will complete the Prevaccination Questionnaire with the recipient at the beginning of the appointment.

Select the option that aligns with your clinic’s procedures, then click Continue.

Frequently Asked Questions

Front desk personnel and healthcare professionals can cancel recipient appointments, but they cannot modify them.

The questions on the Prevaccination Questionnaire are not editable. They are based on the CDC Pre-vaccination Checklist for COVID-19 Vaccinespdf icon which is based on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s EUA (emergency use authorization) and recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practice (ACIP). If you need to include additional questions, you will have to manage that process outside of VAMS.

Validate Recipient Identification

After clicking Continue, you will be taken to the Validate Recipient screen.

  • You must validate:
    • The recipient’s first and last name
    • Their date of birth (DOB)
    • Consent received (if applicable)
    • The recipient matches their photo ID, if a photo ID is required
  • Select the form of identification the recipient used, or select “No ID required for this clinic,” if applicable.
  • Recipients must reschedule their appointment if your clinic requires ID and they do not have a valid ID.
    • If a recipient does not have a valid ID, select “ID required, but not provided,” then click Next to cancel their appointment. VAMS sends a notification to the recipient asking them to reschedule their appointment.
  • If all information is correct and the recipient is on time for their appointment, click Next.

Manage Recipient Appointments

Appointment Status

  • Once a recipient is checked in, they will move to the clinic healthcare professional’s view in VAMS and will no longer appear in the Appointments table for front desk users.
  • If the clinic or recipient cancels the appointment, the recipient’s appointment status will change to “Cancelled” and the recipient’s appointment will appear under the Cancelled Appointments view.

Canceling Appointments

You can cancel a recipient’s appointment by following this process:

  • In the Appointments table on the Recipient Check-In tab, click Cancel in the Cancel Appointment column.
    • NOTE: If a recipient is already checked in but wishes to cancel their appointment, the recipient must either log into their Recipient Portal to cancel the appointment themselves, or the clinic healthcare professional can cancel the appointment for them, since checked-in recipients no longer appear in the front desk user’s view.
  • A screen with the appointment details will appear.
  • Select a cancellation reason from the drop-down menu.
  • Click Cancel Appointment to cancel the appointment. Click Keep Appointment if you no longer want to cancel the appointment.

A cancellation confirmation message will appear. Click OK and you will return to the Clinic Portal home page.

Frequently Asked Questions

Recipients should receive a notification to their preferred method of communication shortly after you submit their appointment cancellation.

Auto-Cancellation of No-Show Recipients

If a recipient does not appear for their appointment after four hours, VAMS marks them as a “no-show,” then cancels the appointment. You do not need to take further action.

The system processes these cancellations once per day. Any appointments cancelled before 2 PM will show as cancelled by 6 PM that same evening. Appointments cancelled after 2 PM will show as cancelled the following day. Cancellation emails for no-show recipients will be sent to them via their preferred contact method during these system processes.

Search For and Edit Recipients

When a recipient requests that you schedule them a walk-in appointment or a future appointment, your first step is to search for the recipient to see if they already have a VAMS account.

  • On the Recipient Check-In tab, click Search for Existing Recipient in the upper right corner.
  • You have two search options.
    • Enter one of these fields: email address, cell phone number, VAMS ID, or External System ID.
      OR
    • Enter all of these fields: first name, last name, and date of birth. You can also enter the recipient’s state to further refine your search, but this is optional.
  • Click Search.
  • If the recipient is already in VAMS, their name will appear in the search results table. You can select the checkbox next to their name, then click either Schedule Walk-in or Schedule Future Appointment. See Manage Recipient Appointments for more information on scheduling these appointments.
  • If the recipient does not appear in the search results, you can create a new recipient record by clicking Add New Recipient.
  • Follow the steps in the Add New Recipients portion of this manual to finish adding the recipient.

Edit a Recipient Record

You can edit recipient records for all recipients at your clinic. This does not include vaccination records (e.g., date of vaccination, vaccine manufacturer). You can only edit email addresses for recipients who have not registered their VAMS account. If an existing recipient does not have a VAMS account but would like one, you can create one for them by editing their information and selecting Yes to creating a VAMS account.

  • To edit the record, click Search for Existing Recipient on the Recipient Check-in tab.
  • Search for the recipient by entering the required information outlined above.
  • Once you’ve found the correct recipient, click their name in the search results table to advance to the Recipient Information page.
  • On the Recipient Information page, click Edit Information to make any changes to the recipient record. Once you are finished, click Save.

NOTE: You cannot use this functionality to edit the recipient’s vaccination record, edit the records of recipients who have completed their vaccination schedule, or edit the records of recipients who have already registered in VAMS. If a registered recipient needs to edit their record, they can do so in the Recipient Portal.

Add New Recipients

Option 1: Adding a new recipient from Search

If you searched for an existing recipient but they did not exist in the system, you can add them as a new recipient by clicking Add New Recipient from the search page.

Option 2: Adding a new recipient from the Recipient Check-In tab

In addition to adding a new recipient through the Search function, you can also directly add a new recipient to VAMS from the Recipient Check-In tab by clicking Add New Recipient.

Regardless of which option you use, you are directed to the same Recipient Information page.

  • On the Recipient Information page, answer Yes or No to the question asking if you’d like to associate the recipient with a representative or guardian.
    • If you answer Yes, you must enter the representative/guardian’s first and last name and date of birth. All other information concerning the representative/guardian is optional.
  • Enter the required recipient details:
    • First name
    • Last name
    • Date of birth
    • Sex
    • Race
    • Ethnicity
    • Home address
  • Entering an email address or phone number is optional.
  • If you enter an email address or cell phone number, you will see a Communication Preferences section. In this section:
    • Select the recipient’s preferred contact method (email, SMS, or prefer not to receive communications).
      NOTE: If you select “I prefer not to receive any communication from VAMS” under preferred contact method, the recipient will not receive any notifications from VAMS, including appointment follow-ups.
    • Once you’ve selected a preferred contact method, you must select the recipient’s preferred language for messages (English or Español).
  • Entering the following information is optional:
  • Insurance information
  • Emergency contact
  • Whether or not you want to create a VAMS account for the recipient.
    • NOTE: If you select to create a VAMS account, VAMS will send the recipient a registration email or SMS, based on their preferred contact method.
  • Once you’ve entered all applicable information, click Next.
  • Review the information provided and check the box at the bottom of the screen, confirming you have reviewed the information with the recipient, and it is accurate.
  • Click Submit.
  • Once you’ve created the recipient, you can click either Schedule Walk-in or Schedule Future Appointment. See Manage Recipient Appointments for more information on scheduling these appointments.
  • NOTE: If you attempt to create a VAMS account for a user with a preferred contact method (email or cell phone) that is already associated with an existing VAMS account, you will receive an error message asking you to either change the preferred contact method to register a new account, or choose not to create an account and proceed as a guest. If you select “No” to creating a VAMS account, a pop-up window will ask if you want to link the new registration to the existing VAMS account.

Recipient Self-Registration (Clinic QR Code)

Front desk staff in clinics whose jurisdictions use guest registration will see a clinic specific QR code on their VAMS landing page. You can download and print this QR code to allow recipients to scan it and be directed to your jurisdiction’s guest registration page. From this page, recipients can complete their registration and schedule their vaccination appointment at your clinic.

Schedule Recipient Appointments

You can schedule walk-in appointments or future appointments for recipients from multiple places in VAMS. You will see Schedule Walk-In and Schedule Future Appointment buttons when you:

  • Search for and find an existing recipient.
  • Add a new recipient, either from the search page or using the Add New Recipient button (see Add New Recipients).

The process flows detailed in this section are the same regardless of where you click Schedule Walk-In or Schedule Future Appointment.

Schedule Walk-In Appointments for Recipients

  • To schedule a walk-in appointment for a recipient, click Schedule Walk-In.
  • Select which dose the appointment is for: first dose, second dose, or additional dose and click Continue.
    • If you select Additional Dose for the dose type, you will need to enter the recipient’s latest vaccination dose date. The recipient must confirm this information is accurate and that they meet eligibility requirements for the additional dose. Once the recipient confirms this information, you can check the confirmation box in VAMS and click Continue.
    • Note: Additional dose in VAMS refers to the third dose for the Moderna or Pfizer-BioNTech product series as per CDC guidance in mid-August 2021 for moderate and severe immunocompromised individuals.
  • If the recipient has no prior doses recorded in VAMS, the system will ask you if the recipient received a prior dose outside of VAMS. If the answer is Yes, you must enter the vaccine manufacturer and the date the recipient received the dose, then click Continue. If they have not received a prior dose, select No, then Continue.
  • If the recipient has a first dose recorded in VAMS and is not yet due for the second dose, VAMS will alert you. In this scenario, VAMS will provide the date the recipient is eligible for a second dose and ask, “Are you sure you want to vaccinate early?” You can select Continue to proceed with vaccination or Cancel.
  • Select Schedule Walk-In to schedule the walk-in appointment.

NOTE: If the recipient already has an appointment scheduled at another clinic, after clicking Continue, the system will ask if you want to keep that appointment or cancel it and schedule a walk-in appointment at your clinic. Make your selection. If proceeding with the walk-in appointment, confirm cancellation of the recipient’s conflicting appointment. This will automatically create a walk-in appointment at your clinic.

You will see an appointment confirmation screen with a QR code. If your clinic has QR code scanning capabilities, you can scan this code to check in the recipient. Otherwise, click Back to Clinic Portal and check in the recipient using the manual check-in process outlined in Recipient Check-In.

Frequently Asked Questions

Third party clinics do not schedule recipient appointments in VAMS. Third-party clinics are a walk-in or open type clinics and do not require appointments, nor can appointments be scheduled for third-party recipients.

Schedule Future Appointments for Recipients

  • To schedule a future appointment for a recipient, click Schedule Future Appointment.
  • The system will ask you which dose you’d like to schedule the future appointment for: first dose, second dose, or additional dose. Make your selection and click Continue.
    • If the recipient does not have another scheduled appointment, the system will ask you to confirm you want to schedule a future appointment. Click Schedule Future Appointment.
    • If the recipient does have another previously scheduled appointment, and your clinic does not allow multiple dose appointment reservations, the system will ask you to either complete the appointment or cancel it before booking another appointment.
    • If your clinic has enabled multiple dose appointment reservations, you can book recipient appointments for multiple doses at the same time. For example, if a recipient has a scheduled first dose appointment, you can also schedule their second dose appointment. When scheduling the second dose appointment, VAMS will automatically list the first date eligible for that dose, based on the date of the first dose appointment.
    • Once you’ve clicked Schedule Future Appointment, if the recipient does not have a prior vaccine dose recorded in VAMS, the system will ask if they previously received a dose.
    • If they did receive a prior dose, select Yes. Then select the vaccine manufacturer (Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Janssen [Johnson & Johnson], or I Don’t Remember) and enter the date of the vaccination.
    • If they did not receive a prior dose, select No.
    • Once you’ve made the appropriate selections, click Continue.

NOTE: The vaccine manufacturer and vaccination date fields only appear if you select Yes.

  • On the Clinic Location page, select an available appointment date on the calendar located on the left side of the page. Days with available appointments are underlined in green. Days with no available appointments are underlined in gray. Days the clinic is not accepting appointments are underlined in red. Days completely grayed out are days the clinic is not operating. NOTE: If you work at a mobile clinic with two or more locations that are currently active, the system will ask you to select the location for the appointment before continuing to the date and time selection screen.
  • Select the appointment time by clicking a time slot, then click Next. Only available time slots will appear. Each time slot will tell you how many appointments are currently available for that time (e.g., “2 slots” means two appointments are currently available at that time). NOTE: The system will hold the selected appointment time slot for 10 minutes. If the appointment is not confirmed by that time, the system will release it.
  • Review the selected appointment location, date, and time with the recipient.
  • Click Submit to confirm the appointment or Previous to make any changes.
  • After clicking Submit, you will see a confirmation that the recipient’s appointment is scheduled. The confirmation includes the appointment details and a QR code for contactless check-in. NOTE: If the recipient provided a contact method, they will also receive the appointment confirmation through their preferred contact method.

Notes about appointment scheduling:

  • VAMS will automatically cancel a second dose appointment if the recipient’s first dose appointment is cancelled, rescheduled, or the recipient receives the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine.
  • If a walk-in recipient has already scheduled their first and second dose appointments, the front desk user can reschedule their first dose appointment for the same day of the walk-in. The system will automatically cancel the second dose appointment. After the first dose appointment is confirmed, the front desk user can then schedule the second dose appointment on behalf of the recipient.

Section 2: Access Multiple Clinics in VAMS

This section will show you how to access multiple clinics in VAMS.

Access Multiple Clinics in VAMS

You may need to perform the same or different user roles at multiple clinics. After the clinic administrator at each clinic adds you as a user for their clinic, you can easily access multiple clinics after logging into VAMS.

  • From any page in VAMS, click the drop-down arrow next to your name in the upper right corner to access the drop-down menu.
  • Click Switch Portals.
    • If you have multi-portal access (i.e., you have access to more than one portal—the Clinic Portal and Recipient Portal, for example) this will take you to the Portal Selection. Click the Clinic Portal button, and then you will see the Clinic Selection page.
    • If you only have multi-clinic access (i.e., you have a clinic role at more than one clinic but do not have access to another portal) clicking Switch Portals will take you straight to the Clinic Selection page.
  • From the Clinic Selection page, choose which clinic you want to switch to by clicking the Access Portal button under the clinic name.

Access Support

Where to Find Additional VAMS Resources and Information

Help Page

The Help page has answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about the Clinic Portal roles and access in VAMS.

  • If you need help when using VAMS, click the Help link in the upper right corner of the navigation bar to find support.
  • You can read through the list of FAQs or you can search for a particular topic in the search bar located below the FAQs tab.

Submit a Question

  • If you don’t find the information you’re looking for, you can submit a question.
  • From the Help page, click Submit a Question.
  • Click Submit a Case and select New Clinic Case.
  • When logged into the system, your name and email address will be prepopulated in your case.
  • Select the category of your question (and subcategory, if applicable), select your jurisdiction, type the subject of your question, then type your question in the Description box and click Confirm.
  • After clicking Confirm, a message will appear on the screen confirming your question was sent.
  • A response to your question will be sent to you via email from CARS_HelpDesk@cdc.gov.
  • Once you receive a response to your question, you can communicate back and forth with the support team by replying to the email.

NOTE: Do not edit the subject line of the email or the support team member who initially responded to your question will not receive it.

Frequently Asked Questions

If a recipient has an adverse event after vaccination, report the event to the to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS). More information can be found at https://vaers.hhs.gov/reportevent.htmlexternal icon

  • Search your email inbox for an email from vams@cdc.gov.
  • Follow the registration link in this email to register your clinic staff account (this step creates your account)
  • If the email isn’t in your inbox, check your junk or spam mail folders.
  • See the Activate Your VAMS Account section in your user manual for step-by-step help.

VAMS works best in the Google Chrome web browser but can be accessed via any browser except Internet Explorer.

VAMS is web-based and works on computers, cell phones, and tablets. There is no VAMS smartphone app, but you can access the VAMS website from the internet browser on your cell phone or tablet. VAMS also works on Android and iOS mobile devices.

VAMS does not integrate with Microsoft Outlook.

CDC is currently exploring how to use VAMS for later phases of the COVID-19 response.

VAMS allows for healthcare professionals to backdate vaccinations, allowing vaccination to continue even if VAMS is unavailable. Healthcare professionals will need to document the following information from recipients during vaccination to enter in VAMS once the system is available again.

Information requested during vaccination:

  • Vaccine information, including UoU (vial) barcode, manufacturer, product, and UoU (vial) lot number.
  • Administration site (e.g., left deltoid).
  • Vaccination outcome: successful or unsuccessful. If unsuccessful, was it possible to re-attempt vaccination?
  • Whether wastage occurred. Note: Log waste if it did occur.

Help Desk

If you need additional support, contact the VAMS Help Desk. To ensure jurisdictions and clinics are fully supported, VAMS Help Desk support is limited to jurisdiction and clinic personnel only.

Toll-Free Number | +1 833-748-1979 Hours of Operation | 8:00 AM – 8:00 PM EST | Monday – Friday

Page last reviewed: October 14, 2021