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.

Download the Rapid Community Assessment Toolszip icon

Tools for conducting a Rapid Community Assessment
Page last reviewed: March 17, 2021