Rapid Community Assessment Guide

Understand your community’s needs regarding COVID-19 vaccines.

People attending a presentation

Who might use this assessment guide?

  • Staff of state and local health departments
  • Health and immunization coalitions
  • Hospitals and clinics
  • Health systems
  • Other organizations working to increase COVID-19 vaccination uptake

Why conduct a rapid community assessment?

  • To identify communities at risk for low COVID-19 vaccine uptake.
  • To inform future phases of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
  • To get an early understanding of what communities are thinking about COVID-19 vaccines and plan for potential solutions to increase confidence and uptake.
  • To identify community leaders, trusted messengers, and other important channels through which you can reach communities.
  • To identify areas of intervention and prioritize potential intervention strategies to increase confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccine.

How long does it take?

The rapid community assessment consists of five steps. Given the urgency of the COVID-19 pandemic, the suggested time frame is three weeks.

Sample Timeline

Preparatory Phase: Prior to starting a rapid community assessment, get buy-in from the leadership of your health department, coalition, or organization for conducting the assessment and creating a plan for action. Early awareness and support from leadership makes it more likely findings will be put to good use in planning and guiding vaccination efforts.

Week 1: Planning and Buy-In

  • Identify main objectives and your community(ies) of focus.
  • Identify and form assessment team.
  • Review existing data.

Week 2: Implementation and Analysis

  • Use decision tool to identify data collection methods.
  • Conduct data collection.
  • Synthesize key findings across different tools–identify interventions for prioritization.

Week 3: Report Findings and Plan for Action

  • Write report (narrative, one-page summary, slide presentation).
  • Share/report out assessment results with the assessment team and wider community (e.g., department of health officials, healthcare providers, and other stakeholders).
  • Prioritize solutions and develop implementation plans.
  • Evaluate your efforts and plan for future community engagement.

Rapid Community Assessment Steps


Step One: Identify Objectives and Community(ies) of Focus

In the first step of a rapid community assessment, you will:

  • Identify your objectives
  • Identify your community(ies) of focus
  • Review existing data

Step Two: Plan for the Assessment

Next, you will:

  • Identify stakeholders
  • Get buy-in
  • Form the assessment team
  • Identify resources

Step Three: Collect and Analyze Data

Step three includes:

  • Human subject considerations
  • Participant recruitment
  • Data collection and analysis
  • Synthesizing data

Step Four: Report Findings and Identify Solutions

Report findings and discuss solutions with stakeholders to engage and build relationships.


Step Five: Evaluate Your Efforts

Evaluate to determine if you have enough information about communities of focus in your jurisdiction to make actionable recommendations to increase confidence in and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Rapid Community Assessment Tools

image of 3 pages from the Rapid Community Assessment Tool

Download, edit, or print Word versions of the tools:

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Learning Template
  • Examples of Evidence-Based Solutions to Increase Vaccine Confidence and Uptake
  • Implementation Guide for Key Informant Interviews (KIIS) and Listening Sessions
  • Social Listening and Monitoring Tools
  • Vaccine Confidence Survey Question Bank
  • Vaccination Insights Synthesis Tool

Download ZIP file in:

Tools for conducting a Rapid Community Assessment

COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Learning Template
Use this template to summarize what worked and what did not work during previous phases of COVID-19 vaccine rollout to prepare for subsequent phases.

Implementation Guide for Key Informant Interviews (KIIs) and Listening Sessions
Use this guide to plan and implement KIIs and/or listening sessions with key individuals or small groups from the community.

COVID-19 Observation Form
Use this worksheet to record observations at community meetings where the target audiences congregate.

Vaccine Confidence Survey Question Bank
Use these survey questions to assess how people think and feel, what social processes affect their lives, what practical obstacles they face, and what their motivation is to get vaccinated.

Social Listening and Monitoring Tools
Use these tools to understand information needs, challenges, or vaccination concerns of your community(ies) of focus and monitor misinformation.

Vaccination Insights Synthesis Tool
Use this tool to compare and contrast your survey findings with findings from interviews, focus groups, and observations.

Examples of Evidence-Based Solutions to Increase Vaccine Confidence and Uptake
Use this table to identify suggested interventions for vaccine confidence challenges.

Page last reviewed: October 6, 2021