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You are about to be transported into the middle of a drug dispensing center with all the distractions of a frightened and confused public. Stay calm and focused as you get as many people through the center as possible.
Oct 15, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – The Rand Corp., responding to a request from the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), recently unveiled a set of proposed standards for cities to use as they establish plans to distribute antibiotics to the public in the event of a bioterrorist attack or other public health emergency. The 133-page technical report, which appears on Rand's Web site, covers four main topics: the number and location of points of dispensing (PODs), internal POD operations, staffing, and security.
PODs are places where members of the public would go to receive antibiotics or other countermeasures in an emergency. The Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2006 requires HHS to develop performance standards for public health preparedness, and the HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) asked Rand to develop the proposed standards, according to the report. The standards are geared toward 72 cities that take part in the federal government's Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI), a program launched by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2004 to prepare major cities and metropolitan areas to distribute antibiotics from the Strategic National Stockpile within 48 hours of a federal order to release them.
Little is written about PODs as their use has been infrequent. However, the military uses the POD concept very efficiently in immunizing deploying soldiers throughout National Guard units. I have had to opportunity to set up a number of these PODs and learned first-hand what works and what can be a setback. This article will offer ideas garnered from real evaluations and research to assist in making your POD operate effectively and efficiently.
The term "Point of Dispensing" refers to a mass dispensing site where immunizations would take place to prevent disease spread or for prophylactic treatment in the event of a terrorism incident. There is a significant difference between dispensing immunizations in a POD as opposed to clinic settings. PODs require a quick setup time and the ability to treat large numbers of people seeking immunizations. Also, PODs will require several agencies working together across organizational boundaries and disciplines.