Planning guidance for immunization clinics for COVID-19 vaccines: Introduction

The purpose of this document is to assist in planning immunization clinics for COVID-19 vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic. Once COVID-19 vaccines are approved and available for use in Canada, they will need to be administered as quickly as possible according to allocation plans. Although they are not the only means of offering COVID-19 vaccines, immunization clinics offer the ability to immunize large numbers of people over a short period of time. The primary target audience for this document is immunization program planners of local/regional and provincial/territorial (PT) public health departments and federal health departments with responsibility for immunization programs. This document should be read in conjunction with other relevant jurisdictional (federal, provincial/territorial (FPT) and/or local) immunization program legislation, regulations, policies and planning documents. This planning guidance is meant to complement existing jurisdictional immunization campaign and clinic plans, and provides ideas and suggestions for consideration which may or may not be appropriate in particular settings and contexts.

Implementing immunization clinics is a large-scale operation which requires detailed planning, coordination, collaboration and efficiency. Typically in immunization clinics a large number of clients are being immunized, so any inefficiency in the processes can significantly decrease the clinic's capacity to safely immunize the optimal number of people. Any major incident (e.g., major injury requiring emergency medical services or technological problem) at a clinic can delay the receipt of immunizations and negatively impact the clients' confidence in the process. Building public confidence in vaccines will be even more important during the COVID-19 immunization clinics with the rollout of new vaccines.

This document builds on Appendix B of the Vaccine annex: Canadian Pandemic Influenza Preparedness: Planning Guidance for the Health Sector. In the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, planning is required to prevent COVID-19 infection of clinic staff, volunteers and clients. Larger clinics with more Immunizers are generally more efficient at vaccinating higher numbers of clients, however, in the context of COVID-19 community transmission, the need to maintain physical distancing and prevent crowding will be very important in determining the size and flow of people within immunization clinics. This document incorporates the recommendations of the Public Health Agency of Canada's (PHAC) Guidance for influenza vaccine delivery in the presence of COVID-19 as applicable to COVID-19 immunization. It also builds on the National Advisory Committee on Immunization's (NACI) Recommendations on the Duration of the Post-vaccination Observation Period for Influenza Vaccination during the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Although the focus of this guidance document is on immunization clinic planning, some information and resources are provided regarding alternate vaccine delivery methods. Issues related to vaccine availability and prioritization/eligibility are beyond the scope of this document, however it should be noted that COVID-19 vaccines are expected to be available progressively over time in a sequenced roll out and clinics may have specific eligibility criteria depending on vaccine availability.

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