3 Ways Technical Assistance Can Help Vaccine Rollout

Written by Kevin Vigilante and Brent Ardaugh

Woman in mask and glasses getting the vaccination shot while she sits in her car.

Federal expertise boosts state COVID-19 vaccine efforts

COVID-19 vaccine rollouts at the state and local levels have been challenging. Though rollouts have recently started to gain momentum, states weren’t included in the federal planning process and have been ill-prepared with distribution strategies, supply chain, and infrastructure problems. Rather than each state reinventing the wheel with their own rollout plans and processes, federal agencies could provide more robust help to states and local health authorities through technical assistance programs.

Certain federal government agencies are adept at supplying targeted, technical expertise and resources to help develop, implement, and evaluate state-based programs. For instance, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) provided technical assistance when rolling out the Affordable Care Act state-based marketplaces. Lessons learned from CMS and other federal agencies could be applied to offer COVID-19 vaccination technical assistance at the state and local levels.

Here are 3 ways that technical assistance programs can help state and local governments in their COVID-19 vaccination efforts.

How Federal Technical Assistance Can Help in Vaccine Rollouts

1. Identifying Needs

Technical assistance often begins with a needs assessment to define gaps. Standardized assessment tools for vaccine distribution readiness would help states identify areas of greatest need. Those gaps may be filled in a variety of ways, such as by providing access to specialized expertise through direct consultation, training, webinars,  targeted resources, best practice sharing, and other mechanisms.

2. Disseminating Consistent Information

Federal agencies could develop resource libraries that contain common content, tools, and templates that can be shared with state and local entities. This means they don’t have to be recreated in each locality. For example, communication playbooks and content to address vaccine hesitancy could be developed, shared, and customized at the local level as needed. Information can be easily disseminated through email distribution lists, newsletters, and websites. 

3. Sharing Best Practices

Communities of practice and other mechanisms foster greater collaboration where best practices can be identified and shared. In resource-strapped states, such support speeds learning, saves time, and reduces variability of outcomes. For instance, a common data architecture and approaches to measurement, data collection, and data visualization could be shared. The “wheel” need only be invented once—and shared.

The Bottom Line: Federal Expertise Would Enhance State and Local Efforts

While we’re well into the vaccine rollout across the nation, the pandemic’s course remains uncertain. States and local governments could benefit from a technical assistance program, applying lessons learned from CMS and other federal agencies to their COVID-19 vaccination efforts. This will be particularly important to have in place for the next pandemic and other public health crises.

Want to stay updated on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout? Check out our health innovation insights. And feel free to share this post with those you care about.

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