The following recommendations build upon our shared goal of equitable and accessible community vaccination opportunities to assure a positive vaccination experience for all communities.
Authentically engage with communities
It is important to engage communities or people working with communities to plan for a vaccination event. Community members can help you determine the appropriate location for a vaccination site and advise on the best ways to share information with the community. Trust must be continually built and cultivated between communities, health care systems, and government. Some ways to do this:
Allow key community partners to do site visits before a site is open, especially those from focus communities. Site visits are helpful in thinking through ways to be more welcoming and accessible.
Begin community outreach efforts as early as possible, and at least a week before vaccination dates.
Engage priority populations to understand why people may not be choosing to receive a vaccination at this time and work to build vaccine confidence.
Address questions or concerns about vaccines and provide vaccination education resources.
Involve local community leaders to increase vaccination uptake.
Invite community leaders to the event to offer support, when/if appropriate.
Consider location for the vaccination event
Plan for community vaccination sites in neighborhood-based locations where priority populations live, work, and play.
Host vaccination sites in locations with access to public transportation.
Use common community gathering facilities or locations for events, if they are available.
Choose an indoor site, if possible. This helps prevent events from being canceled due to weather. If you are using an outdoor site, have a backup indoor site.
Secure a clean location and have clear measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. If a testing site is nearby, ensure that the lines and areas are distinct.
Recommendations for staff and volunteers
Site leads are responsible for leading vaccine event staff to create and foster a welcoming and inclusive environment for everyone. Site leads should lead by example:
Be easily identifiable and accessible (e.g., MDH shirt, bright colored vest).
Hold a team huddle for all staff to allow time for brief introductions (e.g., name and role such as site leads, medical staff, interpreters, greeters, volunteers).
Emphasize the importance of working as one team and the role of each person in creating a welcoming and inclusive environment.
Greet everyone the same way you would want the staff to welcome the public. Include specific examples of what a welcoming and inclusive environment looks like.
Smile, be humble, and practice active listening.
Determine who the greeters are at the site and instruct them on how to actively welcome people. Check in on them periodically.
Have staff wear nametags, including their role such as interpreter, greeter.
Walk through the event with staff as a participant and share how important each staff member's role is.
Meet with each team to walk through their roles and answer questions.
Provide a written description of each staff's role and expectations that they can refer to.
Conduct an on-site team debrief at the end of each event day to learn what worked well and what needs to be improved or changed.
Ensure that all staff – from welcoming, registration, interpreters, to clinical – are doing well and that their well-being is being considered.
Foster a welcoming environment for the community
These are specific recommendations of how staff at the vaccination site can create a welcoming environment for anyone who comes in for a shot.
Private spaces should be seen as a standard option for vaccination and not something a person must know about before arriving on site. Have private areas in the main vaccination area as to not feel like people are being "taken or whisked away" to a secret area.
Ensure the availability of privacy screens. Vaccinations may require some to disrobe or show parts of their body they do not want to show in public. Others prefer having their vaccines lying down for fear of fainting.
Ask people as they check in if they will need privacy; do not wait for them to ask. Have a system so they can let the vaccinators know when they want or need privacy.
No barrier vaccine events
Foster a "no barrier" vaccine environment. People receiving vaccines only need to provide necessary health information and can choose to add their own name to their vaccination card.
Allow time if someone is pausing in line. Some people being vaccinated may need to take a moment for prayer or for nervousness. Be respectful of that moment before asking them to move.
If requested, allow people to decide who will administer their vaccine onsite (e.g., Muslim woman requesting religious accommodations [privacy to remove part of her clothes] and/or a female vaccine provider).
Ensure multilingual access for all
Messaging should be available in languages of the focus communities and be accessible in multiple formats (e.g., written, audio, visual, online, etc.).
Signs in English and the top three languages in the county should be posted throughout the site.
Use simple signs (using plain language and graphics) that clearly identify what the site is and help people feel confident about the site.
Use multiple platforms and trusted messengers to recruit for the event.
Language requests (including American Sign Language) should be coordinated and available for all COVID-19 community vaccination sites.
This includes spoken language interpreters for any focus communities. Ideally, spoken language interpreters would be available for the top three non-English languages in the region.
Consider recruiting multilingual staff when possible.
Train staff to use a phone-based translation service for all other languages. Staff should have the phone number, client code, access code, or other necessary information easily available when at the site.
Ask at check-in or as someone arrives if they will need interpretation. Try to ensure that guests are not profiled to determine if they will have language needs, but that language access support (as well as literacy support) is offered to all.
Figure out how information on interpretation needs is passed on to the next staff person. One idea could be to have the greeter/wayfinder be the person who uses the phone translation service and walks the person through/stays with that person during the entire process.
Ensure any communication is accessible to all, including reminders, appointment changes, follow-up care, etc. This might mean offering phone calls, texts, emails, and possible mailed reminders.
Support should be available for those not comfortable getting information in writing only (i.e., literacy support).
Provide disability access
Community vaccination sites must be accessible and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. Accessibility considerations include physical, cognitive, sensory, and technological. Refer to Best Practices for COVID-19 Testing and Vaccination Sites: Disability-related Accessibility.
Consider that deaf/hard of hearing communities may need to lip read; wearing masks that are not transparent will hinder the ability to lip read. Accommodations such as face shields with social distancing should be in place and staff should be trained on these practices.
Allow vaccine access to those who are unable to tolerate a mask. Consider how your site can meet their needs, such as an option to give someone a vaccine in their car or another space.
Train staff on the basics of disability etiquette. Find resources at Disabilities and Unique Health Needs During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Have ambassadors on-site to serve as greeters/wayfinders to welcome people living with a disability and ensure that any possible barrier has been removed so they have quick and easy access.
Think about factors for access before guests reach the site. Can they call from the parking lot or transit stop? How can they be confident in advance that their needs will be met?