Feb 19, 2021 – Drive-through COVID-19 vaccination centers, if established on a large scale nationwide, could significantly speed up the number of Americans vaccinated, according to a new study that provides a detailed model of how to do this.
PhD, co-author Sunderesh Heragu, a professor of industrial engineering and management at Oklahoma State University, says 350 million doses can be delivered in 100 days based on the proposed model. This is enough to cover the US adult population and then some.
Heragu first developed a model for the swine flu (H1N1) pandemic in 2009 and was used to vaccinate more than 19,000 people a day at a mass vaccination facility in Louisville, KY. Even in the current pandemic, the vaccines thrown into the car are not new, but Heragu’s model comes with specific guidelines to maximize efficiency. It has set a goal of delivering 100 million COVID vaccines by April 30.pearl day in the office. 57.5 million shots were made on Thursday, according to the CDC.
Its developers say that the proposed new model could increase this number more than three times in 100 days.
The entire US population is 332 million, including 77 million children who are not yet eligible for vaccination. Taking into account the adult population of 255 million, of which 57.5 million have already been vaccinated, Heragu says that if the new model is used, multiple second doses could also be delivered in mass vaccination centers during those 100 days.
How the Model Works
The model assumes that 350 mass vaccination centers will be established across the country and vaccines will be delivered 8 hours a day, 7 days a week. Heragu says each location will distribute 10,000 vaccines per day, with a total of 1 million vaccines per site, or 350 million in total.
He says that in mass vaccination centers currently operating, the number of shots is much lower than the 10,000 target. “Typically it is between 1,000 and 2,000 a day,” says Heragu.
To reach the 10,000 goal, each site should include:
- Five tents where each tent serves two cars at the same time
- Four nurse stations in each tent, two nurses at each station, a total of 40 nurses per facility (or more if they reduce shifts to less than 8 hours)
The model includes several other scenarios, such as predicting that vehicles will travel at 7.5 miles per hour in the field and drivers will have a wait time of about 25 minutes. The simulated model based on Louisville vaccines includes a deadline for a consent form to be signed. Heragu says that if a consent form is filled online prior to the vaccination appointment, it could be shortened by 2 or 3 minutes and could increase the total number of vaccinations.
It worked in Louisville
Heragu says the Louisville site that used the model in 2009 made 19,000 shots in just 1½ day. This vaccination program included options for car service and walking. “ There were 19,000 doses and more than 12,000 were made by car service and about a third by walking, ” he says.
Heragu says drive-through clinics are able to vaccinate far more people per hour than outpatient clinics. In the Louisville vaccination project, 424 people per hour in the promenade and 762 people per hour in the car service area were vaccinated.
Other Benefits of Car Service Vaccination
Heragu says that in the Louisville vaccination app, people prefer the car service option. At some points, he said, “There was a promenade that no one expected usually, and a 30-minute wait, car service. The officer said, ‘You can get out of the car by car [and go to the walk-up.]'”
Heragu says people choose to wait while the car is being served. Convenience and habit can explain this preference, he says. “People are used to serving the car for a bank transaction, for breakfast, even for dry cleaning, and lately to vote.”
Health concerns, he thinks, is another reason many people choose the option to drive. “When people are in their cars, they don’t worry about getting the virus,” he says.
Children in the car with their parents are usually more comfortable than staying in the car, and parents of babies say they won’t have the extra task of putting babies in and out of the car seat to use their walking areas.
The option to service the car for vaccination is definitely efficient, says Michael F. Gorman, professor of business analytics and operations at Dayton Business School in Ohio. He is the editor INFORMS Applied Analytics Magazine, publishing the work.
Numbers you can do with ” [drive-thru] facilities like this are very high. We have a really efficient way to deliver this at high capacity and low costs. “
What is of course unknown is how reliable the vaccine supply is. He acknowledges that all the doses estimated in the model ” can be given within 100 days if there is enough vaccine, [but] only if there is enough vaccine. “