Make It

Starbucks is helping get people vaccinated with these simple but super smart solutions to bottleneck issues

Check-in station at the mock vaccination site created at Starbucks headquarters
Courtesy of Starbucks.

What if getting vaccinated for Covid was as quick and easy as getting a coffee at Starbucks? The hope is that with a new initiative aimed at boosting vaccinations in Washington state, it could be.  

Starbucks, along with Costco, Microsoft and others, is part of a new group, Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center, announced by Washington Governor Jay Inslee Monday that's tasked with improving vaccine distribution in the state to reach a goal of vaccinating 45,000 people a day.

Given Starbucks' expertise in servicing 100 million customers a week, employees at the coffee giant are responsible for improving the operational efficiency of vaccine distribution. That means reimagining vaccination centers so that the process is quicker, more organized and pleasant for the patients.

The company even created a mock vaccination site at Starbucks headquarters.

"It's the most streamlined Starbucks we'll ever build," Jon Liechty, vice president of operations innovation at Starbucks, said describing the process of redesigning a vaccination site, in a release.

The problems Starbucks is already solving

The team at Starbucks observed vaccination centers in the state to get a sense of the pain points that needed fixing, then created a mock distribution center at its Seattle headquarters.

Starbucks employees test the waiting room at its mock vaccination site at the company's headquarters.
Courtesy of Starbucks.

For example, Starbucks representatives observed that bottlenecks are often created in the waiting rooms at vaccine deployment locations because people are required to stay for a 15-minute observation period after getting a shot to monitor for side effects or allergic reactions. The vaccinated patients often linger because many are not sure what time they received the shot, and some get distracted looking at their phones, according to Starbucks.

So the Starbucks team is exploring solutions such as writing the time the shot was administered on the patient's vaccination card, seating vaccinated people in (socially distanced) groups according to the time of vaccination so that they are dismissed together, and placing highly visible clocks in waiting rooms.

Another issue Starbucks found? Waiting in lines. So Starbucks has proposed having two check-in sites to avoid long waits: a "fast line" for registering for your vaccine, and a "slow line" for those who may have additional questions.

Subtle design features, such as signs with symbols and icons instead of words, are also being considered to accommodate those who can't read English. (Starbucks representatives observed some people needed to call friends or loved ones to have them read the information posted in English to the patient.)

The idea is that Starbucks can create a scalable framework for other locations across the country to follow suit.

The other businesses in the group are contributing their expertise in other ways.

Microsoft is assisting with technology and support, Inslee said in a release. The tech company's Redmond campus will be turned into a vaccination site for people in the community, since most employees are working remotely, Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a press conference Monday.

Costco pharmacies will be tapped to deliver vaccines.

Washington State Vaccine Command and Coordination Center also includes healthcare groups and government organizations.

In the United States, 1.61 million people have received both doses of the Covid vaccine, according to Our World in Data. Only 45,237 people of Washington state's 7.6 million residents have been fully vaccinated.

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