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Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis

Public Health Emergency Preparedness

This resource was part of AHRQ's Public Health Emergency Preparedness program, which was discontinued on June 30, 2011, in a realignment of Federal efforts.

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Bioterrorism: The intentional release of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, toxins, and/or spores on civilian populations in order to induce fear and panic by causing illness and/or death.

Biowarfare: The use of disease-causing bacteria, viruses, toxins, and/or spores upon military personnel to achieve strategic objectives during warfare.

Category A Biological Agents/Diseases: Biological agents classified as high-risk by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) because of their relative ease in dissemination and transmission, their high infectivity and virulence, impact on public order, and requirement of unique and extraordinary public health preparedness and response.6 These agents are: anthrax, botulism, plague, smallpox, tularemia, and viral hemorrhagic fevers.

Dispensing: The process of providing medical prophylaxis to targeted populations in the community. The third step in the drug delivery chain from stockpile to distribution to dispensing.

Dispensing/Vaccination Center (DVC): A single location where antibiotic or vaccine dispensing activities occur. Also know as a Point of Dispensing, or POD.

Distribution: The process of delivering bulk medical materials (e.g., SNS supplies) from stockpile and staging areas to the dispensing centers. Second step in drug delivery chain from stockpile to distribution to dispensing.

Incident Command System: An organizational structure for emergency response based on clear and consistent definitions of roles, responsibilities, and reporting channels of all participating personnel.

Logistics: Refers to resource procurement and management to achieve objective goals; the section of ICS responsible for providing facilities, services, and materials for the incident (not personnel).

Mass Prophylaxis: The process by which an entire community is to receive prophylactic drugs/vaccines over a defined period of time in response to possible exposure to a biological agent.

National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NPS): See Strategic National Stockpile (SNS).

Strategic National Stockpile (SNS): The Federal cache of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, medical supplies, equipment, and other items to augment local supplies of critical medical care targeted to high-priority diseases and conditions (based on the CDC Category A agents). Also refers to the program and support staff managing and operating this cache. Formerly known as the National Pharmaceutical Stockpile (NPS).

Operations: Refers to implementation of planned processes using resources provided by Logistics; the section of ICS responsible for all tactical processes at the incident.

Protocol: A detailed script, decision tree, or patient flow diagram intended to guide decisions and action at specific DVC stations (e.g., triage).

Push Package: The unit cache of medical supplies created by the SNS that will be shipped to an incident within 12 hours of Federal authorization.

Surveillance: The process of monitoring community-wide illness syndromes or disease occurrence to detect a possible bioterrorist attack or natural outbreaks of unusual diseases.

Triage: The systematic and protocol-driven evaluation of patient-based information to determine type of treatment or assistance needed. DVC triage may direct patients to further medical evaluation, mental health evaluation, pharmacist-assisted drug dispensing, or none of the above.

Vendor Managed Inventory (VMI): Large caches of specific pharmaceutical agents stored by manufacturers under preexisting contractual arrangement with CDC SNS and available for mass shipment to affected areas as needed for continuing prophylaxis and response activities after use of one or more Push Packages.


DOC = Dispensing Operations Commander
DVC IO = Dispensing/Vaccination Center Information Officer
DVC SC = Dispensing/Vaccination Center Site Commander
DVC = Dispensing/Vaccination Center (also known as POD)
EOC = Emergency Operations Center
HAN = Health Alert Network
IAP = Incident Action Plan
IC = Incident Commander of campaign
ICS = Incident Command System
IMS = Incident Management System
JAS = Job Action Sheet(s)
SAP = Site Action Plan for DVC
SitRep = Situation Reports
SNS = Strategic National Stockpile and Strategic National Stockpile Program (formerly NPS)

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