Vaccination Site Plan: Safety, Security, & Liability Concerns
With the administration of COVID-19 vaccinations increasing throughout the country, school districts, municipalities and counties around the state of Wisconsin may be asked to utilize their facilities, grounds, and parking areas as COVID-19 vaccination sites. There are a number of safety, security, and liability concerns that must be addressed to ensure the vaccination process flows as smoothly as possible.
Consider the following when developing your vaccination site plan:
Utilize Social Media to Get the Word Out
Your local mass media outlets – newspaper, television, and radio – are a great avenue to get the vaccination message out to you community. Your website and social media channels can also be used to list important vaccination site information, as well as pictures of Google Earth maps for entrance into your parking lots and buildings.
Maintain a Strong Law Enforcement Presence
Maintaining a strong and visible law enforcement presence will help ensure that everything moves smoothly, especially when high volumes of people or vehicles are involved. Your local police and sheriff’s departments can assist with:
- Development of vehicle traffic flow patterns in parking lot areas including traffic cone/barricade set up
- Development of pedestrian traffic flow patterns outside and inside of buildings
- Investigation of vehicle accidents that may occur on site
- Addressing any verbal or physical confrontations that occur on site
Stress the law enforcement presence through the use of uniformed officers and marked police vehicles.
Vehicle Traffic Flow
We have seen the reports on television of vehicle grid lock at vaccination sites where people have had to wait hours for their vaccination. To ensure fluid traffic flow, and to calm individuals driving to the vaccination site, consider the following controls:
- Direction of vehicle traffic on public streets should be addressed by law enforcement
- Maintain marked police and/or sheriff’s department vehicles on site
- Maintain uniformed police officers/sheriff’s deputies on site
- Consult with local law enforcement to determine the driving maze of your parking lot area
- Determine if your local department of public works or highway department may be able to assist with providing orange traffic cones and barriers
- Ensure brightly colored, recognizable speed control markings are in place
- When possible, drive one way in and one way out – avoid areas where vehicles must cross each other’s path or a pedestrian must cross in front of moving vehicles
- Any vehicular accident must be investigated by law enforcement, not your personnel or volunteers
Highly Recognizable Signage/Markings
Different types of signage and markings will be required to ensure the fluid movement of vehicles and pedestrians.
- Ensure signage and markings are easy to read and provided in multiple languages if needed
- Ensure signage indicates where people are to drive into your location, where to park, where to enter the building, exit the building, exit your location, etc.
- If brightly colored markings are placed on the ground, they may need to be inspected on a frequent basis to ensure they have not been damaged or covered with snow.
A potential liability concern is created when an individual entering or exiting your grounds and buildings slips or trips, resulting in a fall. It is important that your organization has done everything possible to ensure safe walking areas are maintained.
Are walking areas clear and free of debris, snow, and ice?
- Especially during cold weather conditions, walking areas should be frequently inspected to ensure walking areas are clear and snow/ice concerns have been safely addressed.
- Consider maintaining a snow/ice removal log at each entrance and exit where walking surface conditions are checked and addressed throughout the day.
Adequate Number of Handicap Parking Spaces
Ensure that an adequate number of vehicle handicapped parking spaces are available close to the building entrance. This area should be monitored by a volunteer or supervisor to ensure the handicapped spaces are not being used by those who do not need the assistance. Consider a drop off or turn around area for handicapped or special needs individuals that allows them close access to the building.
Is there an accessible entrance ramp for wheel chair access?
If your volunteers are being asked to assist individuals who have a disability or individuals who use wheelchairs, training should take place to ensure safe handling protocols are followed.
Volunteers and other supervisors need to be trained with regards to their specific supervision duties. This may include:
- Directing vehicle traffic. As mentioned earlier, traffic control on public streets should be performed by law enforcement. Volunteers may be asked to direct pedestrian and vehicle traffic on your grounds or within buildings. Any form of vehicle directing should be reviewed by law enforcement.
- Assisting individuals out of their vehicles and in to the building. Individuals with a disability and elderly individuals may need physical hands-on assistance. Ensure supervisors have been trained on how to properly perform these duties.
- Instruct all volunteers and supervisors that they are not to attempt to break up any physical or verbal confrontations that occur between individuals. This is the job of law enforcement.
- Ensure all volunteers and supervisors are equipped with appropriate clothing for the weather conditions, reflective vests to alert of their presence, appropriate personal protective equipment, and proper footwear.
- Ensure all volunteers and supervisors are equipped with communication – cell phones and/or walkie-talkies. All volunteers and supervisors must know who to call for assistance whether it is a medical emergency, a verbal or physical confrontation between individuals, an accident or incident involving people or vehicles, or simply someone asking for directions.
Building and Equipment Security Controls
Although remote, the chances of physical damage to your building’s equipment or theft of valuables should be considered.
- Do not allow individuals to freely roam throughout the building. Vaccination patients should be limited to the vaccination area only.
- Ensure restroom facilities are available that do not allow individuals to access other parts of the building.
- Instruct all volunteers and supervisors to secure their personal belongings. Consider providing a ‘safe room’ where their valuables (coats, car keys, wallets, purses) may be securely stored if not maintained on their body.
- Ensure a system is in place to account for all your compute related equipment – cell phones, walkie-talkies, iPads, etc. If your equipment is used, it should be ‘signed out’ at the beginning of the day and ‘signed in’ at the end of the day.
With the increased number of vehicles and people accessing your vaccination site, the chance of a vehicle accident, a slip, trip, and fall resulting in injury, or physical confrontations resulting in injury may increase.
Always remember, contact law enforcement when a vehicle accident or physical confrontation takes place.
With regards to a personal injury from an accident exposure such as slipping and falling, it is important that an investigation be performed. Remember the following:
1. Get the person professional medical attention.
2. Protect others from being injured.
3. Stabilize the situation – correct or remove the hazard if possible.
5. Conduct an investigation.
General guidelines for investigating general liability-related accidents include:
- Gather the accident facts while they are fresh.
- Inspect and record any changed physical characteristics or conditions of the accident site.
- Preserve any physical evidence, such as potentially defective equipment.
- Use your cell phone to take photos to help preserve the scene.
- Talk to the injured person, if possible.
- Talk to any eyewitnesses.
- Ask simple open-ended questions, one question at a time, and attempt to have events related chronologically to ensure thorough coverage.
- Distinguish a person’s actual knowledge from hearsay.
- Ask when, where, who, how, and what was said or done.
- Avoid opinions, judgments, or conclusions, and be as objective as possible.
- Avoid commenting on the information gathered except to confirm your understanding or to clarify.
- Stress getting the facts.
- Do not comment on liability or admit fault during the investigation, but listen for clues in the conversation around you.
- Remember, unsolicited comments often have merit.
- Review and finalize any notes immediately upon completion of your inspection and any interview or other communication with those involved.
- Fill out the appropriate accident, incident, or near-miss form, giving an accurate account of the facts.
Vaccination Site Plan (example only)
Entry: Lining Up
Patients will line up in one of (number) lines along either side of the (entrance). One line will accommodate the current hour’s appointments while the other line is for people scheduled the next hour, but chose to arrive early.
Proper distancing will be marked with neon tape.
Patient engagement specialists will be interviewing and pre-screening patients for eligibility, as well as answering concerns or questions about the vaccination.
ZONE 1: Registration
From the (entrance), patients will be directed to one of (number) registration lines. Volunteers/staff will check-in patients, verify their eligibility and appointment, and use laptops to enter patient names into a digital queue.
Direct patients to the seating area in zone two.
ZONE 2: Waiting Room
The (waiting room area) will accommodate about (number) socially distanced chairs. This will assist in the prevention of ‘bottlenecking’ of patients.
ZONE 3: Vaccination
Staff/volunteers will use laptops to identify and call up the next name in the digital queue and direct patients to one of (number) vaccinators. Patients will receive a vaccination card from a volunteer assisting the vaccinator, and then they will be directed to a volunteer handing out slips of paper with their exit time. Patients will be directed to a seated observation area where they will wait from 15 to 30 minutes depending on answers to medical questions asked during the pre-screening.
ZONE 4: Observation
Patients will sit in one of (number) socially distanced chairs while they complete their waiting period. Medical volunteers will monitor for signs of adverse reactions, including any patients experiencing anxiety. Observers will have an emergency line in case of a medical emergency.
During the waiting period, which will last 15 to 30 minutes, specialists will rove patient-to-patient and verify follow-up appointments. Patients will then show a slip of paper to a volunteer who will verify their exit time before directing them out through (exit location).
This article is not all encompassing as it relates to the safety, security, and liability exposures and controls associated with a vaccination site serving thousands of people. It is most important to meet with your law enforcement agencies, medical community, and your personnel to ensure a safe and reasonable plan has been developed to minimize the chance of something going wrong during this critical process of vaccinating those in your community.
If additional resources are needed, you may reach out to your M3 Insurance account executive or risk manager, or contact the Center for Disease Control regarding COVID-19 safety resources.