A doctor wearing gloves filling a syringe with a vaccine for COVID-19 while a patient sits in the background.

CASE STUDY: COVID-19 Vaccine Allocation

Vaccine allocation tool helps states plan for limited amount of COVID-19 vaccine

The launch of a vaccine allocation tool, based on U.S. Census, and other data, helped with scenario planning so that decision makers could understand how much vaccine to send where and to which populations.

The Challenge

In October 2020, the country began to face the harsh truth. Even if safe COVID-19 vaccines were developed at amazing speed, there would not be enough to vaccinate everyone right away. States needed to plan for allocating vaccines to their highest priority populations.

The Solution

Ariadne Labs and Surgo Ventures utilized equitable vaccine allocation guidelines from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, which identified 13 high-priority populations. We gathered data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, and other public data sources. 

Complex math and data science techniques translated these data sets into county-level population estimates that were used to create a free, simple-to-use online tool that gave state and county decisionmakers the local data they needed to visualize the distribution of vaccines to different groups based on available vaccine doses, high-priority populations, and vulnerable communities. 

Given the differences between allocation, dissemination, and distribution, this tool provided insight to allocation decisions. It was updated to reflect new prioritization guidelines from the ACIP in 2021.

Our Impact

As of February 2021, the tool has been accessed 475,000 times. There were more than 2,600 method document downloads from 171 countries. The tool was the springboard for a New York Times feature that allowed individuals to understand their place in line for vaccines and appreciate the groups that might come before them. The data was used to power a number of other online tools to inform the public.