What it Takes to Host a Mobile Vaccination Clinic: From Initial Outreach to Getting Vaccinated
As traffic at our Alliant Energy Center clinic has slowed down, our mobile vaccination teams have been ramping up! We’re sending folks out into Dane County communities to vaccinate people in locations that work for them, whether that’s a library, school, church, bar and restaurant, or community festival. It takes quite a bit of effort to stage a mobile vaccination clinic—also called a pop-up clinic—and our teams are setting up at least one clinic most days of the week! Here’s what it takes to make a pop-up clinic happen:
Outreach to Possible Vaccination Sites
Setting up a pop-up clinic starts with a look at the data. We use maps of vaccination rates to determine areas that might be good spots for clinics: is this an area of the county with lower vaccination rates? Is this location one that reaches people who might otherwise have trouble accessing vaccine?
When we have an idea of where a clinic might be appropriate, we reach out to community partners. This can happen in a number of ways. Sometimes a member of our communications or liaison team identifies a great location based on a past or current partnership and asks if the organization might be interested in hosting a clinic. Sometimes a business or organization reaches out to us and asks if we can help them set up a clinic. Sometimes we try to time a clinic with a community event or festival.
Working Out Logistics
Once we have identified partners and locations for possible clinics, the mobile vaccination team handles coordinating the logistics. This means working closely with the location hosting the clinic to answer questions like:
- Will the clinic be inside or outdoors?
- How will we need to setup the space for the clinic?
- Where can we connect to electricity?
- Where will we seat people who are waiting the 15 minutes after vaccination?
- Will we offer a second dose clinic?
- How can we work together to promote this clinic and get the word out?
These details are worked out and then the clinic is on! Sometimes we can go from conceptualizing a clinic to having it staffed and scheduled just a few days later. We add the clinic to our pop-up vaccination map.
Promoting the Clinic
A clinic doesn’t work unless people know about it! Our team works with the location hosting the clinic to promote all the details. At a minimum, this means creating a clinic flyer and creating a graphic for social media. These two promotional tools are then shared with the location hosting the event, on social media, area organizations and businesses, and with the local elected representatives for the area in which the clinic will be held.
Depending on the clinic’s location, we may use additional outreach strategies as well. For instance, if the clinic is in a strip mall parking lot, our staff might go into each business to let them know the clinic is happening and share flyers. We do get some traffic from folks who are in the area for errands, see the pop-up clinic, and wander over to get vaccinated!
We also engage trusted community stakeholders, such as business, nonprofit, and faith community leaders, to share reliable information and encourage family, friends and neighbors to take advantage of the opportunity to access the vaccine.
All locations hosting the clinic are also offered the opportunity for a community conversation ahead of the event. For example, if the clinic will be happening at a business for their employees, they may want a public health staffer to come a few days ahead to share more about the vaccine, answer questions, and be a resource to address any issues. We’ve found these short, listening and informational sessions can go a long way to helping folks feel confident about getting vaccinated!
At the Clinic
Setting Up the Space
Our mobile teams bring more than just vaccine and staff! We often bring other equipment to ensure that wherever we go feels like a clinic. A few days before the scheduled date, we go out to the site to see what other things we may need. This could include chairs, tables, areas for privacy, tents, and more! We have held clinics in all types of spaces, from community centers to parking lots and everything in between.
When our teams travel offsite, they carefully pack coolers with the vaccine. Rest assured this isn’t your typical cookout-style cooler! We have ice packs that keep the temperature of the cooler within one degree for up to 72 hours. A cord connects to a thermometer that tracks the temperature very closely. Our staff check and document the temperature on the thermometer once they get to the clinic then hourly to ensure it stays within range. If staff notice the temperature trending up or down, they take action immediately to maintain the integrity of the vaccine.
Baggies and baskets keep the different brands of vaccine separated, as we try to travel with all three types of vaccine whenever possible. We keep documentation within the cooler to document who prepped the vaccine, the date and time it was drawn from the vials into syringes, and the type of vaccine included. Safety is our top priority so everything is checked several times to be sure it’s right before it goes into an arm.
Getting People Vaccinated
Whenever possible, we send vaccinators who reflect the population we are serving. For example, at a clinic sponsored by Centro Hispano, we sent bilingual vaccinators and support staff. This goes a long way to helping a client feel comfortable getting vaccinated. Paramedics are also part of our vaccination team, as they observe folks for rare allergic reactions for 15 minutes after vaccination.
While folks wait in line, our intake staff like to chat to make sure clients are at ease before getting vaccinated. This is a great opportunity to answer questions. If someone is squeamish with needles, for example, our staff are trained to accommodate them by answering questions, moving them to a private area, having them lay down on a cot, and asking them how they would be most comfortable getting vaccinated.
After vaccination, clients must wait for 15 minutes for the possibility of an extremely rare allergic reaction. The paramedics on site are trained to respond to any medical event that could happen onsite.
After the Clinic
Clients are given a short survey to complete after they are vaccinated. This helps us understand how people heard about the clinic and if having the clinic in this location helped them get vaccinated. In other words, if the pop-up clinic hadn’t happened, would they still seek out vaccination? This helps us identify future clinic locations and learn ways to best promote the clinics in the future.
The team that was at the clinic sends our mobile vaccination group a debriefing email to share how things went. This team meets twice weekly to share strategies and things we’ve learned to improve safety, efficiency, and communication wherever possible.
Come to a pop-up clinic and see us in action! We update our map as new clinics are added, so check if one is headed your way!