How To Run A Successful Vaccination Clinic
Why Host a Flu Clinic?
Vaccination clinics are more than just an efficient way to immunize large numbers of patients at one time. They’re also a way to establish your practice as a go-to partner in the overall health and well-being of your community.
Discover how easy it can be to conduct a flu clinic and ensure your patients experience the care they deserve, whether it’s within your practice or out in the community.
Even if you have reservations, we urge you to continue reading as we share our resources and expertise. The rewards are worth the investment.
Effective Flu Clinics
Start with Efficiency
Preparation is Key
Running a flu clinic is like any other event, from a blood drive to a sporting event: Its success largely depends on how well you prepare. Below you’ll find the steps essential to running a smooth and successful event:
- Create Your Clinic Planning Team
Be sure your planning team includes representatives from all areas of your practice involved in the clinic. Practices of all sizes should include caregivers and administrative staff. Larger practices (or clinics) may also bring in other management staff, Health Information System (HIS) team members, and IT if needed.
- Set and Share Clinic Goals
Clinic goals should guide your planning. The very first question to answer is: Who are you looking to vaccinate? Just your patients? Your patients and their families? The general public? The patient population you are targeting will dictate your choice of location, as well as other decisions such as: When to hold your vaccination clinic? How long will the vaccination clinic be open?
Do everything you can in advance! I know some clinics don’t want to do this because of no-shows but it really saves you time.
Practice Administrator at Pediatric & Adolescent Associates, PSC
- Set the Place, Date, and Time
Clinic goals will guide the location, dates, and times of your event. If your existing patients are the target, running the clinic inside your practice during normal business hours may be the best and easiest route. For clinics that serve larger populations, an outdoor area may better suit the space and safety needs of your staff and patients.
When deciding upon a space, also consider:
• Adequate lighting, heating, and cooling for staff and patients
• Access to restrooms
• ADA access
• Space for vaccine storage and clinic supplies
• Data collection and management
TIP: Manual data collection and management is a solid backup, but on-site internet or VaxCare’s Mobile Hub (no Wi-Fi needed) will allow you to reduce or eliminate double data entry. Time: Normal business hours are most convenient for staff but may not be for your vaccine recipients. Consider running clinic hours on evenings or weekends to better accommodate your patients.
- Outline the Flow
Define the flow of your flu clinic in advance to keep things running smoothly. You may also consider setting up ‘tasks’ for the patients—check-in, temperature check, paperwork, etc.—to make the vaccination process feel faster for them and smoother for your staff.
- Recruit and Train Staff
Your clinic will need additional staff members beyond clinicians licensed to administer vaccines.
Account for those who will manage these tasks:
• Directing clinic flow
• Monitoring supplies and vaccine temperatures (if needed)
• Overseeing administrative and IT issues
• Handling any emergency medical services
Vaccine clinics are also a great opportunity to introduce new patients to your practice, so assigning staff to act as greeters, vaccine educators, and translators for non-English speakers can be a big value-add. With adequate staffing secured, ensure everyone is trained and prepared for the day ahead, including expectations, patient flow, and reporting details.
- Pre-Register Patients
While no-shows are inevitable, pre-registration will still save you time day-of, and is often identified as one of the most important parts of clinic success. Pre-registration allows you to screen for eligibility and contraindications prior to arrival, ensures a smooth patient flow, and helps you plan for supplies and staffing. Consider how many patients you can efficiently and safely vaccinate in each time slot and register accordingly.
Pediatric and Adolescent Associates, located in central Kentucky, found that group scheduling of six families every ten minutes—instead of one patient or family at a time—kept their clinic flowing smoothly and safely.
Promote your clinic to patients and encourage them to register. Remember to consider multiple communication channels to reach different patient populations, and if possible, send out reminders to encourage patients to show up for their appointments.
• Who the clinic is for
• Instructions on how to participate
• What to wear
• When to arrive
• What to expect at the clinic
While pre-clinic communication is time consuming, it pays dividends through streamlined operations and reduced stress the day-of your event.
Ohio Memorial called all registrants to for their drive-through clinics, reminding them to wear clothing with easy upper arm access for shots, and reported that these reminders went a long way in improving compliance and streamlining efficiency.
TIP: Communicating with patients is important, but so is communicating with your staff. Be sure to keep your team in the loop as your goals, plans, and workflows evolve.
- Order Supplies
In addition to standard supplies, you may want to consider a few others:
• Extra signage
• Extra cleaning supplies for any items patients touch (clipboards, pens)
• Tables and chairs at each checkpoint
Your clinic likely has many of these items, but investing in additional supplies is a choice that can pay off not only through future events but also by attracting new patients.
The CDC has compiled an exhaustive checklist that you can find by visiting www.cdc.gov and searching Satellite, Temporary, and Off-Site Vaccination Clinic Supply Checklist.
For outdoor events, don’t forget:
• Outlet strips and extension cords
• Pop-up tents
[Walkie-talkies] allowed us to communicate from station to station, ensuring that staff had the information they needed for any special circumstance, so we could keep traffic flowing through our drive-through station.
Tom Anderson, Practice Management Supervisor
Pediatrics, Memorial Health System
Flu Clinic is a Success
Maintain Patient Flow
Because you set up your flow in advance, it should be easy for patients to follow. Be sure to provide clear signage on floors and walls, including directional arrows, to direct patients and staff.
Monitor Vaccine Inventory and Temperature
Monitor your vaccine inventory and temperature throughout the day to avoid unexpected issues.
Don’t Forget to Celebrate
Consider a sticker or other congratulatory token—a memorable branded takeaway is a great way to spread your name and commitment to vaccines.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how well-planned your clinic, there are plenty of variables you can’t predict or control. Promoting a flexible mindset and teamwork attitude among your staff will help you meet and overcome any unexpected hiccups. This attitude can turn a clinic into an invaluable team-building event.
A few steps at the close of your event will make sure you’re ready for your next day of business, as well as the next vaccination clinic. Be sure to build in time at the end of the day to do the following:
Dispose of Materials
Make sure that used vaccine materials are disposed of safely and that any remaining supplies or vaccinations are stored and restocked for future use. It may be helpful to designate a point person to make sure that protocols are being followed for disposal of materials, and submitting of information.
Track Any Suspected Adverse Events
If you or your staff noticed any suspected adverse reactions, make sure to report them to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (www.vaers.hhs.gov).
Track Results and Submit Information to Your State’s Immunization Information System (IIS)
Update patient records as needed and submit information on vaccinations to your jurisdiction’s IIS as required by your local immunization program.
Consider an After-Action Report
Meet with your staff and evaluate the success of your vaccination clinic. What went well and what could be improved? Be sure to take notes for future clinic prep. We’ve heard from many practices that they get better at running clinics each time.
Thank Your Staff
It’s important to take time to celebrate a job well done and thank everyone who helped! Vaccination clinics are important for your patient population and for the public at large and wouldn’t be possible without the help of offices like yours!
Top Tips by Location Type
In addition to the organization and preparation for a successful vaccination clinic, there may be additional requirements depending on the type of location you choose. We’ve outlined some of the top questions and tips in this section.
Questions to Consider
Top Tips for In-Office Clinic Success
Questions to Consider
Top Tips for Curbside/Parking Lot Vaccination Clinic Success
The CDC has put together a guide to drive-through or curbside clinics that is helpful for getting started. (Visit www.cdc.gov and search “Considerations for Planning Curbside/Drive-Through Vaccination Clinics.”)
Questions to Consider
Top Tips for Off-Site or Community Clinic Success
Leave the community site as clean as you found it. The CDC has put together a guide to off-site clinics that is helpful for getting started. (Visit www.cdc.gov and search “Guidance for Planning Vaccination Clinics Held at Satellite, Temporary, or Off-Site Locations.”)