How Do Drive-Through COVID-19 Vaccinations Work?

Man receiving vaccine at drive-through clinic

Key Takeaways

  • COVID-19 vaccines are being distributed at drive-through locations throughout the United States. 
  • Participants utilizing the drive-through option must meet vaccine eligibility requirements in order to receive the vaccine at these locations. 
  • Experts say drive-through vaccinations could help nix some of the issues surrounding the COVID-19 vaccination rollout.

You might be used to turning to Eventbrite for tickets to an upcoming concert, or these days a slew of virtual events. But scheduling your vaccine appointment isn't exactly what you envision the ticketing service for, right? 

Well, that is, until the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this month, Florida vaccine locations began popping up on Eventbrite as a means for providing distribution details and organizing those who were eligible, even including several locations that offered drive-through options.

One event page notes that “vaccination is for anyone ages 65 years and older, or healthcare workers who provide direct patient care but who are not associated with a hospital system. Individuals under age 65 will not be vaccinated.” Those people who meet the requirements are instructed to reserve a “ticket” to claim their spot and bring along a valid driver’s license to verify their identity.

At the close of last month, the Florida Department of Health in Pasco County hosted a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinic, administering vaccines to those who fell into priority groups, including healthcare professionals and long-term care facility residents and staff. According to the department's website, participants in the drive-through were greeted on-site by signs directing them where to go and were told to stay in their vehicles unless prompted to do otherwise. 

Since then, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved several drive-through spots throughout the state, including 26 Publix Super Markets locations throughout five counties in Northwest Florida.

Several other states have also begun to incorporate drive-through locations, including New York, Colorado, Arizona, Texas, and California.

What This Means For You

Curious about your state’s vaccine distribution? The Department of Health and Human Services can help you find out where to go and whether or not drive-through locations are available to you.

Are Drive-Through Vaccinations a Good Idea? 

Put simply, there are pros and cons to drive-through vaccination, Ahmed Zayed, MD, a surgeon and assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, tells Verywell.

“On the good side, there’s less need for people to line up in a close perimeter to each other, which could limit the spreading and other risks,” he says. “On the negative side, this could cause long lines of cars clogging up busy roads.”

Zayed says the introduction of drive-through vaccination stations started in smaller areas of the United States, such as Minnesota’s Carlton County, where only 100 vaccines were available during the first day of vaccinations. On the other hand, a drive-through vaccination clinic in Hamilton County, Tennessee lasted two days. 

“[But] overall, with the right management strategy, this could be an effective solution to the current obstacles faced with vaccination programs,” he says.

How Do Drive-Through Vaccinations Work? 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the following guidelines for health practitioners planning curbside and drive-through vaccinations during COVID-19, including those that have vaccinations that are not for COVID-19 (like the flu shot or routine childhood vaccinations):

  • Finalize clinic specifics: what vaccine(s) will be offered to which age group(s) and/or what patient health insurance requirements need to be met.
  • Identify the clinic site: considering how much space will be needed based on clinic activities, physical distancing practices, enhanced infection control procedures (including handwashing stations), proper vaccine storage, handling, preparation, and administration practices, traffic and weather considerations, and safety issues for patients and healthcare personnel.
  • Strongly consider observing patients for 15 minutes after vaccination. Syncope (fainting) is possible after vaccination. This is critical at a drive-through vaccination because of the potential for injury when the vaccinated person is the driver. Enough parking should be available for drivers to wait the recommended 15 minutes after vaccination. If possible, this should be done in the same space the vaccination occurs, or in a staff-monitored parking area nearby.
  • Internet access. Needed to retrieve information from or enter information into an immunization information system (IIS) or electronic medical record.
  • Establish logistics and clinic flow. How will you practice social distancing when possible? What safety guidelines are needed (for example, having passengers remain in their vehicles, restraining children properly, not allowing pets that could possibly bite healthcare personnel, etc.)? Ideally, vehicles should be able to enter and exit in separate areas.

Staff working at the drive-through locations are also encouraged to adhere to all necessary safety precautions, including maintaining social distance and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Patients are also instructed to wear face masks when the vaccine is being administered.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.

3 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Florida Department of Health in Pasco County. Drive-Thru: Priority Groups (65+).

  2. Ron DeSantis. Governor Ron DeSantis Announces Additional COVID-19 Vaccination Sites at Publix Super Markets.

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Considerations for Planning Curbside/Drive-Through Vaccination Clinics.

By Caroline Shannon Karasik
Caroline Shannon Karasik is a writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. In addition to Verywell, her work has appeared in several publications, including Good Housekeeping, Women's Health and Well+Good.