Points of Distribution

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What Happens During a Public Health Emergency

If a disease outbreak, bioterrorism attack, or natural disaster happens in New Jersey, thousands, possibly millions, of people will need medical attention to treat or prevent the spread of disease. Local medical supplies and medications will be used quickly during such a public health emergency.

The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), a federal government program that provides medication and medical supplies to states during an emergency, helps meet the need for additional supplies by quickly delivering large quantities of critical emergency medicines and supplies to states that request them.

Assistance for New Jersey and Your Community

In the event of a disaster, outbreak, or attack, our governor will ask the federal government to send Strategic National Stockpile shipments to New Jersey. Once help is approved, the Strategic National Stockpile will fill the request from storage facilities located around the country. Supplies can be delivered to any state within 12 hours of the request.

Depending on the type of emergency, the Strategic National Stockpile will deliver antibiotics, chemical antidotes, antitoxins, and/or other medical or surgical items. Additional drugs and/or medical supplies can be supplied within the following 24 to 36 hours.

When Strategic National Stockpile shipments are received, they will immediately be delivered directly to the communities that need them.

Medication Centers/Points of Distribution Sites

Cities and towns in New Jersey will set up emergency medication centers, also known as points of distribution sites (PODS), where people can pick up the emergency medications or receive vaccinations. Medication centers will be located in large public buildings such as schools, arenas, or churches in several geographic areas to minimize the amount of time people need to travel to reach them. Local public health agencies will announce when medication centers will open, where to find them, how to get there, what to bring, and what to expect. You will be able to get this important information from sources that include:

• Television and radio news and newspapers

• State and local public health and emergency management websites and social media sites

• Community, civic, and religious organizations

Local governments are responsible for determining the location of medication centers in their areas. In many cases these sites will not be made public until an emergency occurs. Not all medication center sites will be used for every emergency, so it is important to check the resources listed above for current information in the event of an emergency.

If medication centers are opened to distribute medicine from the Strategic National Stockpile, there will be no charge to the public, and you will not need to provide identification. Trained staff will assist you at the medication center through a simple process. Depending on the type of emergency, one person may be asked to pick up medications for a household or group.

Testing the distribution plan

The Mercer County Division of Health has a Points of Distribution plan that is evaluated frequently through drills and exercises. The purposes of these exercises are to train staff and volunteers to respond to emergencies and to apply lessons learned via the exercises to improve our plans to better serve the residents of Mercer County.