Dispensing COVID-19 Vaccines on Campus
Many K-12 schools, colleges, and universities are deciding to distribute COVID-19 vaccines on campus for both their own populations and the general public. If your institution is considering distributing vaccines, consult with counsel to understand your institution’s legal responsibilities and potential liability. While the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, along with the Health and Human Services Public Declaration, may provide immunity for those distributing and administering vaccines, it is important to understand the application of the act to the current COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination. Furthermore, state law interaction with the PREP Act is something to discuss with counsel.
Whether your institution chooses to conduct a mass vaccination event or provide a smaller number of vaccines through a health clinic, keep these points in mind.
Planning to Dispense COVID-19 Vaccines
Vaccine distribution takes planning and coordination. A well-thought-out plan will make the logistics of storage and distribution of a vaccine for your school community easier.
Your plan should address:
- Overall infrastructure. Survey your institution to determine if it has the infrastructure to dispense vaccines. Identify a vaccination site (field house, clinic, auditorium, large fields if vaccination will be outdoors). Choose a location appropriate for the size of your vaccination event.
- Site details. For example, will protection from the elements be available as people wait? Also consider facility access points and internal traffic flow. Identify areas for vaccine and supply storage, including ways to keep these items temperature controlled and secure.
- Contracts. Memorialize the agreement to serve as a vaccine dispensing point in writing in the form of either a contract, memorandum of understanding, or other written agreement. This written agreement should clarify each party’s role in providing the site, supplies, vaccine, and other responsibilities in running the vaccination dispensing site. Review this agreement with counsel for the opportunity to include an indemnification clause, shifting as much liability to the vaccine supplier as possible, to provide your institution with an additional level of protection.
- Supplies. Identify and order necessary supplies for vaccine administration and begin sourcing the needed quantities. Determine where these supplies will be secured prior to vaccination location setup. Consider other supplies to order, such as pens, paper, signage, tape, trash cans, biohazard disposal units, and hand sanitizer. Your county or state health department may have a list of necessary supplies or be able to assist with sourcing.
- Personnel. Staff appropriate personnel available to help conduct the vaccination event. If you need to rely on volunteers in addition to medical or other staff, ensure they are screened appropriately (your policy may require background checks due to the nature of the volunteer activity). Create written affiliation agreements for any nursing or medical students staffing the vaccination events. Where applicable, ensure staff are covered by professional liability insurance. Train them on your procedures as well as any safety and security precautions.
- Mass vaccination sites and events. If your institution decides to serve as a vaccine point of dispensing (POD), create a POD plan such as the one at Purdue University.
- Recordkeeping. Consult with counsel about any necessary informed consent forms that vaccine recipients must complete. Decide how those records will be maintained and securely stored.
After completing your vaccination dispensing plan, conduct a tabletop exercise to identify any shortcomings or potential pain points. You may need to create your own training for both leaders and on-site personnel. Train all participating staff and volunteers on the POD plan or dispensing plan prior to their participation.
About the Author
Heather Salko, Esq.
Manager of Risk Research
Heather oversees the development of risk research publications. Her areas of expertise include employment law, Title IX, and student mental health. Before joining the Risk Research team, she practiced employment and insurance coverage law and handled UE liability claims for more than a decade.