Background: Local health departments across the country were put to the test when implementing mass immunization clinics to respond to the 2009 influenza pandemic. Among the challenges were: Efficiently managing the massive vaccination planning effort, Recruiting and training staff/volunteers, Ensuring that vaccines were initially restricted to people in the ACIP subset priority groups, and later the full priority groups, Ensuring that vaccinees were appropriately screened and received the appropriate vaccine of their choice (when available), Coping with uncertain amounts and types of vaccine and uncertain public demand Making vaccinations convenient and minimizing patient wait times to increase people’s willingness to comply with public health recommendations
Setting: Spacious, accessible settings where mass clinics could be offered in a county of 300,000 people.
Population: Persons in ACIP-defined priority groups for influenza vaccine.
Project Description: Informatics tools can greatly facilitate planning and implementing a mass vaccination clinic. In our county, a web-based planning tool allowed key team leaders to define and refine necessary activities before, during, and after the clinics. Incident command plans and situational awareness documents were posted on a secure wiki. A web-based volunteer management system was enhanced to recruit and schedule hundreds of volunteers, as well as offering them some pre-event training. An on-line and phone registration system for patient vaccination slots was developed, allowing appointments to be spread evenly over time, ensuring that only high-risk registrants were scheduled, accelerating intake by asking most screening questions in advance, avoiding running out of vaccine at any clinic, and providing information about community demand in real time before the actual clinic.
Results/Lessons Learned: With the proper IT tools supporting outstanding staff, volunteers, and community partners, efficiently organized clinics with less than 15-minute patient throughput times can be a reality, and the public will greatly value the convenience.