8 tips for conducting successful in-school COVID vaccination events
A lot of progress has already been made in the COVID vaccine race. For school districts that have struggled to maintain in-person learning or overcome parental hesitancy to return students to schools, however, getting teachers and staff vaccinated as quickly as possible remains a top priority.
With more states expanding eligibility and more vaccine doses becoming available, it is more feasible for school districts to host onsite vaccination events. Such large-scale events must be approached with adequate planning and attention to detail, however, in order to be successful.
As an authorized COVID vaccine administrator in 22 states, Everside Health has partnered with a number of different school districts and other employers to host onsite vaccine events. What we’ve learned from these events provides some valuable guidance for other school districts looking to host similar events in the future—whether it’s for initial doses or future booster shots.
- Start planning early. That includes recruiting volunteers to help run the event and surveying teachers and staff to accurately determine how many doses are needed.
- Provide clear communications regarding eligibility, prioritizations of various populations within the school district, and processes for signing up to avoid confusion and frustration.
- Conduct a strong education program designed to overcome vaccine hesitancy and help dispel misperceptions about the vaccines to help ensure a good turnout. Designate a point person within your organization to address employee questions and concerns.
- Identify a large, open area for the event that offers good traffic flow and ventilation, as well as adequate space to align with current social distancing requirements. Note that you will need to divide this space into areas for registration, vaccine administration, and post-vaccine observation.
- Schedule a prep meeting shortly before the event with all volunteers and medical personnel to address any last-minute questions or concerns and to assure everyone understands their specific tasks.
- Verify Internet integrity in the space dedicated for the event to ensure continual access to sign-up lists and medical records.
- Develop a formal no-show policy and process for quickly contacting employees who may be on the waiting list to ensure all vaccine doses are used. Minimize no-shows by sending out multiple reminders in the days leading up to the vaccine event.
- Conduct a post-event assessment shortly after the first event to evaluate what went well and what needs improvement so your follow-up vaccine event can be problem-free.
It’s important to keep in mind that vaccine administration is only one step in the ongoing battle to create a healthy school environment. Keep lines of communication open with the school’s healthcare provider to ensure ongoing monitoring of teachers and staff, especially those with chronic medical conditions that put them at greater risk for COVID complications. Also make sure that mental health support services are provided since the current pandemic has caused tremendous anxiety and depression. This is also a good time to investigate wellness programs that encourage healthy behaviors and promote virtual medical appointments for employees who are not yet comfortable physically going to see a clinician.
If the school doesn’t already have a relationship with a proactive healthcare provider that can help anticipate future problems, establish appropriate protocols and navigate ongoing health challenges, now would be a good time to create that type of partnership.
Dr. Tobias Barker is the chief medical officer of Everside Health (previously Paladina Health, Activate Healthcare, and Healthstat), one of the largest providers of direct primary care services in the country. Everside works closely with school districts and other employers to develop customized, onsite and near-site healthcare programs that significantly reduce claims costs and improve access to quality care, as well as health outcomes. Dr. Barker can be reached at email@example.com.
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