Are US Jurisdictions Prepared to Dispense Medical Countermeasures Through Open Points of Dispensing? Findings from a National Study
Communities will rely on open points of dispensing (PODs) for mass dispensing of medical countermeasures following a bioterrorism attack or a pandemic. US Cities Readiness Initiative (CRI) open POD preparedness is assessed using the Technical Assistance Review (TAR) but focuses on oral prophylaxis dispensing; mass vaccination readiness is not well measured. Non-CRI preparedness had not been studied. In 2013 an online questionnaire was sent to all 456 CRIs and a random sample of 500 non-CRIs to
... easure open POD preparedness and exercise participation. Hierarchical linear regression was used to describe factors associated with higher POD preparedness and exercise participation scores. In total, 257 subjects participated, for a 41% response rate. Almost all open PODs have existing written plans and/or a layout for each site (93.4%, n = 240, and 87.0%, n = 220). Only half (46.7%, n = 120) have an alternative dispensing modality in place, and even fewer (42.6%, n = 104) report having adequate staffing. Determinants of open POD preparedness were perceived preparedness, participation in more POD exercises, and more closed POD coverage. Most jurisdictions conducted a full-scale exercise and a staff notification drill (83.7%, n = 215 for both). Fewer than half (40.5%, n = 104) have conducted a vaccination clinic exercise. Determinants of increased POD exercises were perceived preparedness, years of work experience, community type (nontribal), and larger population. Because successful open POD deployment is critical, jurisdictions need to plan for mass vaccination, use of alternative dispensing modalities, and recruitment strategies to increase POD staffing.