Dalton (GA) – During this joyous season of social gatherings and holiday cheer, it is easy to forget that hazards could happen at any moment. If a public health hazard such as a bioterrorism event or widespread disease outbreak were to happen in this area, delivery of vaccines, medications and antidotes to the public would be critical.
The North Georgia Health District, part of the Georgia Department of Public Health, has a public health hazard response plan for each county in the district.
David Huskey, health district Director of Emergency Preparedness, said, “In the event of a public health crisis that would require many people to rapidly receive preventive medication, our health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties are prepared to open a temporary Point of Dispensing, also called a POD.”
For years, the health district and county health departments have planned with community partners, first responders and volunteers to operate temporary Points of Dispensing, and since 2007, these plans have been exercised each fall when the county health departments conduct their drive-by flu shot clinics. Plans include the possibility that supplies from the federal Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) may be requested and transported to the POD if local and state supplies become depleted. The SNS has large quantities of medicine and medical supplies to protect the American public if there is a public health emergency (terrorist attack, flu outbreak, earthquake) severe enough to cause local supplies to run out (http://www.cdc.gov/phpr/stockpile/stockpile.htm).
"Currently, we’re educating the general public on what a POD is and what it will mean to them and their families if it’s ever needed,” Huskey stated. “In emergency preparedness, you hope for the best but prepare for the worst. North Georgians need to prepare ahead of time in case they ever need to go to a Point of Dispensing.”
The health district’s Point of Dispensing education campaign has included the distribution of The Point of Dispensing and YOU printed materials in English and Spanish (please see attached poster in PDF) and a Public Service Announcement in both languages that aired earlier this year on local radio stations. The campaign encourages people to prepare for a POD and to go to the health district website for more information.
Preparation for a Point of Dispensing includes having the following items and information ready to bring to the POD:
- Bring a list of the regular medications you, your children or other family members take – this information will be needed for treatment assessment.
- Know how much your children weigh – dosages for children are calculated based on weight.
- The specific preventive medication for the particular health hazard will be free at the POD, so no form of payment will be needed.
- Dress appropriately for the POD in case of bad weather conditions.
- Pack food, water and other supplies you or your family members may need in case your wait at the POD is lengthy.
North Georgia Health District officials urge residents to learn more by clicking on the Point of Dispensing page here on our website at http://nghd.org/Emergency-Preparedness/the-point-of-dispensing-and-you.html.