You've been assigned the ginormous task of opening a COVID-19 vaccination site for your municipality, school, or another entity. You have been working hard on the logistics and have the location, medical supplies, and staff lined up. Thankfully, the CDC and FEMA have checklists of what you will need depending on the type of site you are operating—for example drive-thru vs. walk-up, large vs. small.

When it comes to traffic flow, the CDC recommends using "rope or cones, tape, and signs in multiple languages, as needed, outside the clinic entrance area and inside the clinic." This advice provides good general guidance. But as a site organizer, perhaps you could use more clarity.

Going With the Flow

The importance of ensuring good traffic flow, whether of cars or people, at a vaccination site, cannot be overstated. It makes the difference between sites people recommend to family and friends and sites that quickly turn into logistical nightmares. Traffic flow can also be the differentiator between positive and negative media coverage. Above all, moving people safely and expediently through your site allows more people to be vaccinated in a timely manner, which ultimately saves lives.

With this goal in mind, below are some of the essentials you should obtain to ensure yours is a smooth vaccination operation. And don't delay. U.S. President Joe Biden has pledged that 260 million vaccines will be available by the end of May. Administering this many vaccines requires setting up more sites nationwide, which could strain the supply chain and create essential product shortages.

The Great Outdoors

Signage. Clear signage is vital, starting with a prominently marked “Entrance” and “Exit” that are easily visible in all weather.

Other signage you are likely to need includes:

  • Parking/No Parking--especially important if the site has other uses
  • One Way--to keep traffic flowing smoothly in one direction
  • Waiting Area--for drivers required to wait a minimum of 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine before driving
  • Nonregistered Guests--for those who did not make an appointment to get the vaccine
  • Handicapped--to accommodate those with special needs and for sites in the United States to comply with the U.S. Americans With Disabilities Act
  • Customized--such as “ABC Vaccination Site" to prevent non-vaccine-related traffic from entering the site and for any other instructions unique to your facility.

Some considerations when choosing your signage include:

  • All signage requires a surface to affix the sign to, a point sometimes forgotten. The right traffic supply vendor can provide delineators or vertical panel signage that is completely customizable and can be ordered in quantity.
  • All outdoor signage should be visible in bad weather and at all times of the day. If your site is open before sunrise or after dusk, reflective signage is recommended.
  • Signage should be in multiple languages as warranted by the location.
  • All signage should be placed to ensure traffic moves in one direction from entrance to exit.

Traffic cones and delineators. Without enough visible traffic cones to separate traffic lanes, your smooth-running site can quickly turn into chaos. Confusion and bottlenecks caused by multiple lanes merging can create long waits and short driver fuses, not to mention accidents. Traffic cones should be bright and tall enough to be seen by drivers in trucks and SUVs. They should also be heavy enough to withstand bumps. Traffic cones should be bright so that they are visible in all weather and daylight conditions.

Speed bumps and barriers. If your site is a school, church, or another public facility where children are frequently present, chances are there are already speed bumps in place. However, if the site is in a new or remote location, and especially if it is near/at an exit from a busy highway, you may want to consider putting in speed bumps to ensure traffic slows to a safe speed. You will also want to have barriers to divert traffic and keep cars from entering restricted areas.

Safety gear. All persons directing traffic should have light wands and safety vests that are visible in all weather and daylight conditions. Safety vests should also be worn by staff handling registration, vaccinations, and other duties in drive-thru clinics.

Tents. If your clinic is outdoors, tents are recommended in order to protect site visitors in case of inclement weather. Having separate, clearly marked tents for those receiving the vaccine and those waiting until they can drive is recommended. All tents should include signage to remind visitors to maintain physical distancing.

Moving Inside

Signage. Here, too, you need clear, highly visible signage to direct people to the various stations and keep the flow of traffic moving. Some signs to remember besides Entrance and Exit include:

  • Masks Required at the entrance if you are in a state where they are mandated
  • Temperature Screening if temperatures are taken upon entering
  • Registration
  • Vaccination Station(s)
  • Waiting Area for those waiting to drive
  • Sanitation Station(s)
  • Please Stay 6 Feet Apart for physical distancing reminders
  • Handicapped or Special Needs signs in addition to those that may already be in the facility.

As with outside signage, indoor signs should be in multiple languages, as appropriate.

Physical distancing. You will need floor markings showing people where to stand to remain six feet apart throughout the facility, especially in areas where lines are likely to form.

Traffic flow delineators and ropes. These are essential, especially if you will have multiple lines for registration and vaccinations. The delineators should be tall enough not to be tripped over and heavy enough that they can't be knocked down easily. Ideally, the ropes should come with fasteners that can be opened to allow for people who need to step out of the line(s) to do so.

Tables. Besides needing tables for registration paperwork and sanitizing stations, tables provide a natural safety barrier, minimizing close contact between staff and those awaiting vaccination.

The Right Vendor Partner

Thinking about what you need when it comes to traffic control for your vaccination site can seem almost as overwhelming as the potential traffic jams themselves. The trick is to choose the right vendor. You need a partner with experience handling the full scope of traffic supplies for events of all kinds and sizes, from concerts and sporting events to marathons and haunted houses. You also want a partner that carries all the items you need, a one-stop-shop vs. trying to organize shipments from multiple vendors at various times. The vendor you choose should have a history of delivering complete orders on-time and to diverse locations, including stadiums, fields, and parking lots. And the supplier must be able to do all this at a fair and reasonable cost.

The pandemic stopped us all from doing the things we love for the past year. Don't let it bring things to a halt again. Be sure your vaccination site has everything you need to help people get in, get vaccinated, and get on with their lives.


Don't come up short! Make sure you have all the supplies you need to set up your vaccination site. Visit our one-stop-shop for CDC- and FEMA-recommended site essentials at or call us at 888-388-0180.

Still unsure what you need? No problem, our vaccination site experts are here to help!