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  • Writer's pictureClarion Staff

How a vaccine clinic works

By Touzong Thao, Clarion Staff Writer

Ever since COVID-19, questions from the general population have appeared multiple times. The many valid concerns may come from the lack of knowledge about how a vaccine clinic works and how it administers it’s vaccines. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a variety of conflicting opinions, but let us examine what happens in a vaccine clinic.

In order to answer many of the concerns, it is best to gain an insight into the routine of a vaccine clinic. The example that will be used will be Equivax. According to the Equivax website it states that the organization was formed early March due to several collaborations between the county of Sacramento, regional leaders, and community-based organizations in under-resourced areas. Equivax vaccine clinics are placed in schools and community centers in several locations in the Sacramento area where they often administer Pfizer vaccines.

These clinics have the five main steps in order for an individual to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

First, there is a line outside of the clinics where incoming patients would register. This registration process would apply to both walk-ins and regular appointments (online on the vaccine clinic’s website). The registration papers involve a list of general health concerns; for example, what health conditions a person might have or if they have received a vaccine in the past. These questions are used to determine the amount of time an individual would have to wait after receiving their first or second dose of the Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. The patient will give their registration papers to a medical worker to overlook the written paperwork. If they see that the patient does have health conditions, they will either tell them that they will have to wait an extended amount of time in the hospitality/observation room or if they are uncomfortable they can leave the clinic facility. They also will hand back the documents for the next few steps in the registration process.

After registration, the patients would be led into the main vaccination room. This is where appointment and walk-in check-ins would occur. Patients will be directed towards a registration station where they will check in and confirm their appointment on a computer through a registration manager. They may ask for an ID to verify identity. IDs are used to confirm and verify any information that may have not been mentioned or unstated. After the check in process, the patient will be given a paper that states when they are able to get their second dose typically two weeks after their first dose. When these steps are done, people will be led towards a scanner. Every vaccination clinic is different but for Equivax this is the usual part of the registration process.

The scanners will request two IDs. They are required to ask if the patient has any sort of personal ID like a driver license card, school ID, or a State ID. Next, they will ask if they have a medical insurance card. From experience, the insurance card is used to record data and get a general statistic of patients especially from under-resourced communities. The insurance card will not be used to charge the patient for the vaccination. The scanner will scan those cards along with registration documents that was given earlier and direct the patient towards the vaccination stations where they can get vaccinated.

The vaccination station is where the vaccination will happen. There are several vaccination tables where the patient will be directed to go toward. After being directed, the people on the tables (consisting of a nurse and a volunteer) will ask several questions to confirm if there is any past illness the patient may have endured before making the vaccination appointment. Examples are “Have you ever experienced a headache or runny nose in the past few days?”. After a few questions, the vaccination process will begin. The nurse will ask the patient to reveal their shoulder where they will then sanitize the shot area with an alcohol pad. They will then prepare the needle that will be used to inject the vaccine into the patient’s shoulder. This process is very quick and not painful. After this, the patient’s shot area will be covered with a bandage. They will also tell the patient how long they will have to wait till they are able to leave. This is to ensure the patient's health is stable and to also take quick action in case there is a severe reaction to the vaccine. They will be then directed towards the exit of the vaccination area.

There will be a person by the exit door where they will collect the documents from when the patient had done the registration process. The patient will then head towards the hospitality/observation room. This is the part where patients will have to complete their wait time given from the first few steps of the registration process. Depending on what the patient put in their registration documents, they might have to wait either 15 minutes up to 30 minutes. This wait time derives if the patient has certain health conditions. The patient will be given some snacks and a water bottle and seated till their wait time is over. It is recommended that the patient consume water and snacks as symptoms from the vaccine could lead to loss of energy. When the wait time is completed, the patients are free to leave the vaccine clinic premise.

The vaccination process in a vaccine clinic is very simple. Some aspects of this experience may differ depending on how many patients there are, if the clinic is short staffed, or if the patient is a minor. If the patient is a minor, the process will be the same but they will have to be accompanied with an adult or parent. It is recommended to have your ID and medical insurance card on hand in order to speed up the process.

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