Steps for Opening a Safe Drive-Through Vaccination Clinic for COVID-19

Since the novel coronavirus COVID-19 took the world by storm, scientists and medical experts have been hard at work to develop a vaccine. It now looks like the first COVID-19 vaccines could be ready in late December (although widespread availability isn’t expected until spring of 2021).

Once a COVID-19 vaccine is both approved and ready to distribute, it is crucial to quickly administer it to as many people as possible to:

  • Promote and develop herd immunity.
  • Prevent further spread of COVID-19.
  • Reduce deaths.

Agencies and those in leadership roles need to start planning how to administer a COVID-19 vaccine equitably, safely, and rapidly. Creating a plan now will minimize the time between availability and distribution, speeding the success of the vaccination campaign. 

Drive-through testing facilities maximized effectiveness and minimized risk for COVID-19 testing. Similarly, drive-through vaccination clinics for COVID-19 will offer many of those same benefits. 

Why Set Up Drive-Through Vaccination Stations?

Drive-through testing facilities have proven massively successful. The same proven approach could be used for high-capacity drive-through vaccination clinics. This will provide a very safe and quick way to distribute the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Converting parking lots and other open-air spaces into walk-up high-volume vaccination locations is one option. However, drive-through vaccination stations offer a superior low-contact solution. It limits crowds and creates a safer space for high-risk people to receive the vaccine.

The drive-through vaccination model is much safer than a walk-up approach. By keeping each patient in their vehicle, they are less likely to infect, or be infected by, another individual visiting the station before they receive the vaccine.

Opening Safe Drive-Through Vaccination Clinics for COVID-19

Opening a safe and en masse vaccination solution for COVID-19 requires a drive-through or drive-in  structure. These are essential to protect equipment, patients, and healthcare personnel, especially if the vaccine becomes publicly available during the winter months. When planning safe drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics, you  should:

  1. Determine the layout.
  2. Prioritize setup speed.
  3. Ensure durability and reuse.
  4. Consider temperature control.

1. Determine the Layout

Most drive-through vaccination stations for COVID-19 will require multiple structures. This number will vary based on the capacity, throughput, and layout. 

For example, the site might want several separate structures for:

  • Patient Reception: Collect the names of people who are waiting to be tested, their identification, and their insurance information
  • Vaccination Portal: Where the patient drives their car/truck to for their vaccination
  • Temperature Control: Secure temperature-controlled vaccination storage
  • Staff Equipment Storage: Vaccination equipment and personal protective equipment (PPE) storage
  • Staff Changing Facilities: Private facilities for staff to change to/from medical scrubs/PPE or spraying each other / themselves with a disinfecting solution for safety
  • Personnel Support Facility: Eating and/or taking bathroom breaks

2. Prioritize Setup Speed

To quickly establish an effective and efficient drive-through vaccination station, the setup speed must be considered. Prioritizing the speed of purchase, delivery time frame, its assembly, and the anchoring options needed will help narrow the selection. 

While typical pop-up canopies will offer a fast setup and are readily available at most outdoor or sporting stores, they are not designed for prolonged use or use in winter weather conditions (high winds and snow). Healthcare workers performing testing and soon-to-be providing vaccines are already putting their own health at risk. For this reason, pop-up canopies for testing and vaccination stations are not a safe solution.  

Where possible, avoid complex and nonrelocatable building solutions, as these add unnecessary and lengthy delays in setup and cannot be easily taken down or moved.

3. Ensure Durability and Reuse

Protecting individuals being tested or vaccinated, healthcare workers, and sensitive medical equipment in inclement weather is paramount for a successful COVID-19 vaccination program. The structure you choose for creating a vaccination station should be able to endure your area’s weather conditions, such as:

  • Strong and gale force winds associated with winter storms
  • Rain
  • Snow 
  • Prolonged UV exposure

Consider building solutions that enable you to leave your structures outside for weeks to months at a time — which will likely be a requirement to fully administer an effective COVID-19 vaccine. If you assume there will be multiple waves of vaccination-seeking individuals, drive-through vaccination clinics for the coronavirus can expect high-traffic for multiple weeks or months.

If a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available at the end of this year or early into 2021, winter weather conditions will require organizations distributing the vaccine to look for durable and long-lasting building solutions. Structures that are able to withstand harsh winter weather, are easy to set up, can be quickly taken down, and reused at another location are recommended.  

4. Consider Drive-Through Vaccination Clinics for Winter Use

With the COVID-19 vaccine expected to be ready anywhere between this December and spring of 2021, drive-through vaccination clinics can expect to be operating during the dead of winter. Choosing a drive-through vaccination clinic designed specifically for winter with temperature controls allows for:

  • Healthcare workers to do their job efficiently
  • Protection of vulnerable patients from harsh elements and frigid temperatures when receiving their vaccine (such patients include the elderly or young children)
  • Maintaining a temperature-controlled environment for the safe administration and storage of the COVID-19 vaccine

Types of Drive-Through Vaccination Clinic Structures

Local and state healthcare organizations have multiple options for structures for their drive-through vaccination stations. Common structure options include:

  • Party Tents & Pop-up Canopies: These offer ease to organizations with their quick setup and widespread availability. Unfortunately, they do not provide protection against harsh weather conditions, temperature control, durability for continuous use, or long-term reuse value. 
  • Shipping Containers (sometimes called “pods”): These have the benefit of durability. Unfortunately, shipping containers used for vaccine stations cannot be taken down and easily stored for future use. Shipping or relocating them is often costly and time-consuming.
  • Engineered Fabric Structures: Tensioned fabric structures that are engineered to meet specific building codes for safety during winter weather are an ideal solution for quickly creating drive-through vaccination stations. They can be designed for a fast setup, safely anchored to virtually any level surface (including asphalt and concrete), and easily taken down and either stored or relocated as the needs of your COVID-19 vaccination program change.

Advantages of Engineered Fabric Structures as Drive-Through Vaccination Clinics for COVID-19

If you are looking to open a safe and effective drive-through vaccination station for COVID-19, an engineered fabric structure is the premier choice for your COVID-19 vaccination program’s needs. Engineered drive-through vaccination stations from Alaska Structures® are:

  • Incredibly durable and long-lasting
  • Weatherproof — capable of protecting staff, individuals, vehicles, and equipment from harsh winter weather
  • Rapidly deployable and reusable
  • Custom-designed and purpose-built structures for drive-through vaccination stations
  • Available as an open-ended drive-through station or enclosed, insulated, and heated

Durability of Engineered Fabric Buildings

Engineered fabric buildings from Alaska Structures are made with a tensioned fabric membrane and a high-strength frame system made of galvanized steel or aircraft-grade aluminum (depending on the load requirements for your area). 

The fabric membrane is UV-stabilized to endure prolonged sun exposure. It is also resistant to mildew and mold, is chemically inert, and exceeds the California Code of Regulations’ (CCR’s) fire safety requirements for membrane structures. 

Alaska Structures’ fabric solutions are longer-lasting and higher-quality than any other polyvinyl- or polyethylene-based fabric options. The proprietary thermoplastic material used by Alaska Structures has been meticulously developed to provide an unmatched level of durability against extreme conditions. The tensioned fabric membranes from Alaska Structures are used at the base camp at Mount Everest (17,500’ elevation) with hurricane-force winds, the Sahara Desert in Africa with temperatures above 130˚F, on the ice shelves of Antarctica with temperatures below -80˚F, and the humid Amazon jungle in South America. 

When it comes to designing a vaccination clinic for COVID-19, Alaska Structures’ building solutions are capable of meeting your area’s weather conditions and providing a weatherproof facility to safely protect staff and equipment.

Fabric Structures Engineered for Rapid Deployment

Drive-through vaccination centers from Alaska Structures are engineered for rapid deployment. A trained crew of four can install a 21’ wide x 20’ long two-vehicle drive-through station in as little as half an hour. All of our fabric structures are designed to safely anchor to any flat surface

Using an engineered fabric structure for your COVID-19 vaccination station needs allows your organization to rapidly deploy a scalable and relocatable facility designed to safely meet the unique challenges of your vaccination program.

Reduce Shipping Costs With Prefabricated Buildings

One of the many advantages of choosing a prefabricated building from Alaska Structures is the cost-saving benefit of lower shipping costs. 

We custom-design, engineer, and manufacture our building solutions in the United States. Doing so not only employs hard-working Americans, but offers faster delivery times than other building providers that have to deal with lengthy manufacturing and shipping arrangements from overseas.

We purposefully design our engineered fabric structures for a lower cube than other building solutions (metal or steel buildings, shipping containers, concrete or precast tilt-up buildings, and conventional brick-and-mortar facilities). 

Our low-cube packaging and lower product weight makes shipping both cost-effective and efficient.

Purpose-Designed Drive-Through Vaccination Stations

A 21’ wide x 20’ long  Alaska Structures’ drive-through vaccination station can support two standard-height vehicles at a time for simultaneous vaccinations. 

We purpose-design our drive-through structures to meet your vaccination program’s needs. Do you need a wider or longer drive-through facility to accommodate more vehicles? Want to create a drive-by or walk-in vaccination clinic? No problem. We offer a wide selection of building models with widths up to 150’, configurable to any height and length.  

Alaska Structures is a proven manufacturer of engineered fabric buildings for a wide range of industries. We use this expertise and experience to quickly design and manufacture heavy-duty outdoor structures to support individual organizations, city and state agencies, and the nation’s vaccination efforts.

Custom-Design a Drive-Through Vaccination Center

In addition to a large selection of building models and sizes, Alaska Structures offers a near-endless number of customization options to meet the unique requirements of your COVID-19 vaccination program. Choose from a large assortment of the following:

  • Windows
  • Personnel and equipment doors (including roll-up side curtains)
  • Plug-and-play lighting and electrical systems
  • Insulation and HVAC systems
  • Vehicle exhaust systems
  • Soft- and hard-wall partitions
  • Modular flooring systems
  • Anchoring solutions for dirt, gravel, sand, wood, asphalt, and concrete

Drive-Through Vaccination Clinics for Winter Weather

Among Alaska Structures’ customization options are choices that can equip your drive-through vaccination clinic for winter use — and we don’t just mean the ability to endure rain, snow, and wind, but to maintain a comfortable interior despite wintry temperatures.

Optional heating, insulation, and energy-efficient LED lights as well as the ability to create a completely enclosed structure enable you to set up a comfortable, well-lit drive-through vaccination clinic in winter — no matter how cold or dark it is outside. Protect your healthcare workers, other staff, patients, equipment, and the vaccines themselves from the cold with a purpose-designed drive-through vaccination clinic for winter weather.

[Related: The Benefits of Fabric Buildings From Alaska Structures]

Start Planning Your Drive-Through Vaccination Clinic Today

Governments and healthcare organizations should not wait until a vaccine is approved for distribution. If a vaccine is to become available in the coming months and your vaccination program is to be effective, it is necessary to start planning for drive-through COVID-19 vaccination clinics now. 

The sooner your organization starts planning and preparing for distributing the COVID-19 vaccine, the faster you’ll be able to respond once it's available. For this reason, we recommend that healthcare organizations order and have on-hand the engineered fabric structures they require to create a drive-through vaccination clinic and store them until needed.

Alaska Structures' building specialists will work with you throughout the entire designing and purchase process. We will ship your engineered fabric structure directly to your organization or vaccination location and, if you choose, can even provide a trained crew to assemble it. Where needed, we can also recommend additional structures to improve your drive-through vaccination station operations. Example enhancements include the following:

If your organization or government agency is focused on providing a fast and widespread vaccination program to help stop COVID-19, we encourage you to  request a quote online, contact us using the information below, or visit our Drive-Through Vaccination Stations page.

Contact Information

Telephone: +1-907-344-1565


This guide is for informational purposes only. If planning a drive-through vaccination station, we recommend contacting your state or country’s governing agency for specific health and safety standards. For up-to-date information on COVID-19, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

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