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New guide helps communities plan for vaccine and drug dispensing in response to bioterrorism or other public health emergencies

A new planning guide from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality is designed to help communities across the Nation make sure that appropriate drugs and vaccines are available to everyone who needs them in the event of a natural epidemic or bioterrorist attack. The guide was developed with AHRQ support (contract 290-02-0013) 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. This new guide complements the Strategic National Stockpile Guidebook prepared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which includes a chapter on dispensing medications and vaccines.

The new guide, Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health Preparedness, is designed to help State, county, and local officials comply with Federal requirements for public health emergency planning. 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 implementation 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 Medical College of Cornell University 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.

Print copies of Community-Based Mass Prophylaxis: A Planning Guide for Public Health Preparedness (AHRQ Publication No. 04-0044) are available from the AHRQ Publications Clearinghouse.

The guide is also available online at

The guide is one of more than 50 studies, workshops, conferences, and other activities funded as part of AHRQ's bioterrorism research portfolio. Select for more information related to AHRQ's bioterrorism research and tools.

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