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Story from the Field

Name of Health Department/Agency: Coconino County Health Department
State: AZ
Date Added: 11/17/2009
Themes: Vaccine Planning and Administration
Issue Summary: Appointments ensure smooth flow at vaccination clinics
Description of Issue(s): At the Coconino County Health Department we are making appointments for all of our vaccination clinics (mass or regularly scheduled).? This enables us to ensure that we have adequate staffing and supplies for each clinic and we avoid long lines and running out of vaccine.? We began this process when we had the flu vaccine shortage several years ago.

Actions taken to address the issue(s): This does require that we invest some resources up front in making appointments.? We use CERT volunteers, some MRC volunteers, staff ?volunteers? (from other programs), and occasionally some temporary staff to answer the phones and make appointments.? The staff and volunteers must go through online training that we developed before they are placed in the phone bank.? When making an appointment, the volunteers ask the caller to identify which target group they fall into.? At this time, if the individual does not fall into the highest priority groups, the volunteer asks that they check our website, or call back in three weeks to see if we have sufficient vaccine to start vaccinating others.? If the caller is in one of the highest priority groups, the volunteer makes the appointment (we collect name, priority group and a contact phone number).? The volunteers are provided a script for a few FAQs, and they can take a message for a different question or a more complex answer.?

We provide the Operations and Logistics Chiefs (we use ICS to run our clinics) with a schedule so they can identify, in advance, who will be vaccinated (e.g., number of children, number of adults, etc.).? This enables them to ensure the vaccination stations have the necessary supplies for the customers that day.? The forms to be completed are available for download on our website and customers can complete those before they arrive.? We do provide copies of all forms and a conference room with tables and chairs for customers to complete the forms on site.

Outcomes that resulted from actions taken: Because we set the schedule, we can easily accommodate breaks for all of the individuals who are working in the clinics.? We also can? also accommodate all individuals within the building so no one has to stand in line outside, in possibly inclement weather.? It takes an average of 15 ? 20 minutes from the time a customer enters the building until he or she leaves (families take a little longer).? We never run out of vaccine because we know how many we need.? Because it is well known that appointments are required, we rarely have any walk-ins, but we can often help them make a future appointment before they leave.?

This system works exceptionally well for us.? We are a moderate sized Department, but we have a very large geographic area to cover.? We must schedule and send staff to six communities outside of Flagstaff (these communities are as close as a 40 minute drive and as far away as four hours). We schedule clinics only when we can ensure that we have vaccine ? we have not had to cancel a clinic or appointments yet.? We could not do this without a strong volunteer program because we often don?t have any staff in the phone bank, although we do have a supervisor readily available to answer questions.? We have four volunteers answering phones during normal business hours.? If a volunteer cannot answer the call immediately, it rolls over to an answering machine, and volunteers call back the same day.

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