What Is a Vaccine Village?
Thursday, Mar 11, 2021 - 4 mins
Among the challenges posed by COVID-19, distributing vaccinations safely and efficiently has moved to the top of the list. Now, as we learn more about the vaccines and how to distribute them, we’re also seeing countries around the world struggle with the logistics of getting populations protected.
We think vaccine villages—a new vaccine distribution model—could help.
What Is a Vaccine Village?
A vaccine village is a dedicated, park-like space where healthcare partners can provide COVID-19 vaccinations to communities.
Unlike stadiums and doctors’ offices, vaccine villages are purpose-built healthcare campuses placed within urban neighborhoods that need help accessing the vaccine. They can support both walk-in and drive-in patients.
Instead of crowded waiting rooms or long lineups of cars, vaccine village patients are welcomed into a relaxing space built at a human scale.
The patient experience pods within a vaccine village create a safe, patient-focused environment free from distractions or stress triggers. Outside, planters with trees provide comfortable shaded seating and waiting areas.
How Are Healthcare Providers Vaccinating People Now?
Here are some of the primary venues for vaccine distribution in the U.S.:
- Drive-through vaccination clinics: These large clinics make it possible to administer many vaccinations in a short timeframe. But they also often lead to long lineups of cars—and aren’t a convenient option for people who don’t drive.
- Civic centers/sports arenas: Like drive-through clinics, repurposed public spaces let healthcare providers deliver many vaccinations each day. However, the experience inside can be impersonal and overwhelming—and again, getting to these locations without a car can be challenging.
- Pharmacies: National chains have begun to distribute large numbers of vaccines—a great first step in making vaccines available at the neighborhood level. But much of the early effort has focused on suburban communities, often at the expense of urban neighborhoods. The busy retail environment in many pharmacy locations also makes it hard to maintain physical distancing.
Why Are Vaccine Villages So Important?
Vaccine villages bring the COVID-19 vaccine to the community, rather than asking the community to travel to the vaccine. Beyond convenience, this approach removes what has been identified as a primary barrier to receiving healthcare: distance.
Studies have shown that patients living further away from healthcare facilities they need are more likely to experience negative health outcomes—like unmet healthcare needs, delays in receiving care, and preventable hospitalizations.
How many people are impacted by this distance? Well, in 2020, it was estimated 43.3% of the global population were unable to reach a healthcare facility by foot within one hour. That’s 3.16 billion people.
We’ve seen first-hand how community-level care has helped more people access COVID-19 testing. Now, by bringing COVID-19 vaccinations to the neighborhood, we can make it easier for everyone to get protected.
How Do Vaccine Villages Work?
First, we work with our healthcare partners to identify urban communities that need better access to the vaccine.
Next, we identify parcels of urban real estate—like parking lots—that can be easily repurposed. Our healthcare and experiential teams can then quickly transform the space into a welcoming vaccine village. Because we take care of all these infrastructure considerations, healthcare providers can focus on what they do best: delivering vaccines and providing exceptional care.
To make the experience as convenient as possible, vaccine villages make use of REEF Q, our digital queue management platform. REEF Q allows us to easily supervise patient flow to ensure physical distancing requirements are met. It also makes it simple for patients to manage their appointment schedule, with less time away from family and work.
Are you interested in creating vaccine villages for the communities you care for? Get in touch with our healthcare team.
REEF is here to help.