COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Tool

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Since its discovery, COVID-19 has affected families, economies, and communities. Scientists and researchers have worked nonstop since the beginning of the pandemic to develop vaccinations to fight against the novel coronavirus. Upon approval, vaccination supplies will need to be distributed to adults, and the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) has published a coronavirus vaccine distribution plan.

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, in its Framework for Equitable Allocation of COVID-19 Vaccine, suggests using an index such as the Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) to prioritize individuals living in locations identified as vulnerable in order to incorporate variables that are most linked to the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on people of color.

Staff at UW Health and the University of Wisconsin Health Innovation Program have developed an algorithm that can be used to improve the equity of the distribution of COVID-19 vaccinations to healthcare personnel during Phase 1a of the CDC’s vaccine distribution plan, if not enough vaccine is available to immunize an entire group of employees with similar job-related risk exposure. The COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Tool ranks health care personnel with similar job-related risk exposure by risk of mortality to COVID-19 according to SVI and age.

Who should use this toolkit?

This tool is intended for healthcare administrators, policymakers, and researchers interested in equitably distributing vaccinations to healthcare personnel.

What does the toolkit contain?

The tool contains an Excel workbook with the SVI value, age value, and formula calculation for the vaccine prioritization score.

How should these tools be used?

The tool can be used to equitably prioritize COVID-19 vaccinations among healthcare personnel with similar job-related risk exposure by calculating COVID-19 vaccine prioritization values from SVI and age. Higher values indicate higher priority.

To allow you to easily use the tool within your organization, it is provided as a separate file in Microsoft Excel that you can download from the HIPxChange site.

To use the tool, information is needed on individual age and SVI. SVI is available at the census tract or county level. County level SVI is not recommended for this calculation as it obscures substantial sub-county variation. An individual SVI can be obtained by geocoding an individual’s address to the corresponding census tract and assigning the SVI value for that census tract.

The SVI values for census tracts in your state can be found here:

Age value and SVI value can be entered into the Excel tool, and the formula will calculate the vaccine prioritization score. Please note:

  • The SVI portion of the equation is based on Wisconsin data
  • SVI = “RPL_THEMES” field in the SVI dataset

Development of this toolkit

The COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Tool was developed by researchers and clinicians at UW Health and the University of Wisconsin Health Innovation Program and has not been endorsed by the Wisconsin State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) as part of its Phase 1a vaccination guidance.

This project was supported by UW Health and the Wisconsin Partnership Program at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of funders.

Please send questions, comments and suggestions to


Flood GE, Meier AE, Anderson MC, Ehlenbach WJ, Bidar-Sielaff S, Thao S, Smith MA. A prioritization algorithm for healthcare personnel for the CDC’s COVID-19 Phase 1a vaccine distribution plan. Ann Fam Med COVID-19 Collection. December 30, 2020. Available at:

Toolkit Citation

Flood G, Meier A, Smith M. COVID-19 Vaccine Prioritization Tool. UW Health and UW Health Innovation Program. Madison, WI; 2020. Available at

About the Authors

UW Health is the integrated and nationally recognized regional health system of the University of Wisconsin-Madison serving more than 600,000 patients each year in the Upper Midwest and beyond with approximately 1,750 physicians and 21,000 staff at seven hospitals and more than 80 outpatient sites.

The University of Wisconsin Health Innovation Program (HIP) is a research program based within the University of Wisconsin (UW) School of Medicine and Public Health. HIP’s mission is to transform health care delivery and population health across the state and nation through health systems research that partners UW faculty with health care and community organizations.