Editor's note: In the event of a pandemic flu, the need for mass immunizations will be vital to containing the spread of the disease and also decreasing the impact to the nation's critical infrastructure. To operate a successful Point of Dispensing (POD), key leaders from all disciplines — fire/EMS, health, law enforcement and emergency management — will need to work together. This article by Jim Sideras will cover goals, planning considerations, site selection, and security for creating a successful POD. The next article in his series will discuss site setup, layout, staffing and public information deployment.
By Jim Sideras
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.
The first goal in a mass immunization plan is to decrease the pool of individuals who might become ill. This necessitates the need to quickly implement a POD and have it running in a short period of time to immunize patients.