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New Guide Helps Communities Prepare for Vaccine and Drug Dispensing in the Event of a Bioterrorism or Other Public Health Emergency

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Press Release Date: September 20, 2004

A new planning guide funded by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is designed to help communities nationwide make sure that all Americans have needed drugs and vaccines in the event of a natural epidemic or bioterrorist attack.

Developed by a team of researchers in the Department of Public Health at Weill Medical College of Cornell University and New York-Presbyterian Hospital led by Nathaniel Hupert, M.D., M.P.H., the guide complements the Strategic National Stockpile guidebook prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which includes a chapter on dispensing medications and vaccines.

"States and localities are charged with the enormous task of readying medicines needed in an emergency," said Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. "This guide goes a long way toward helping them put the necessary resources into place and to meeting the federal government's call for readiness."

The new guide, Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health Preparedness, is designed to help State, county, and local officials meet Federal requirements for a public health emergency.

The new guide:

  • Provides a framework for understanding the components of epidemic outbreak response (surveillance, stockpiling, distribution, dispensing, and followup care) and the planning and conduct of dispensing operations using specially designated dispensing clinics.
  • Applies these concepts to develop model pill-dispensing and vaccination clinics run on the Bioterrorism and Epidemic Outbreak Model (BERM), a computer staffing model also developed by Dr. Hupert and his colleagues at Weill Cornell under contract to AHRQ that can be customized to meet local community needs.
  • Discusses implementation of a command and control framework for dispensing clinics based on the CDC's National Incident Management System.

"Information is the most powerful resource we can provide communities in readying for such public health emergencies," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, M.D. "We hope public health officials at all levels of government find this new planning guide to be helpful."

Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health Preparedness can be found at Printed copies are available by contacting AHRQ's Publications Clearinghouse at 1-800-358-9295 or by sending an E-mail to

The guide is one of more than 50 studies, workshops, conferences, and other activities funded under the Agency's bioterrorism research portfolio ( AHRQ sponsors research that provides the evidence base for tools and resources needed in bioterrorism planning and response.

For more information, please contact AHRQ Public Affairs: (301) 427-1865 or (301) 427-1239.


The information on this page is archived and provided for reference purposes only.


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