Emergency Distribution of Pharmaceuticals

Photo of a patient at a pharmacy.

During an emergency, public health workers may be called upon to help dispense medicine or medical supplies. Find out what is involved in the process of mass dispensing of medications, vaccines, or other medical supplies. This module outlines situations in which mass dispensing is necessary, and discusses the logistics of providing medications to large populations.

This module was developed by the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of Washington. It was supported by grant number 2 TO1HPO1412 from the Health Resources and Service Administration, DHHS, and was also supported, in part, by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) under grant number U90/CCU024247.

This course is co-provided by the Northwest Center for Public Health Practice (NWCPHP) and Continuing Nursing Education (UWCNE) at the University of Washington.

Target Audience

Public health workers and volunteer health care providers who wish to increase their knowledge of mass dispensing of pharmaceuticals.

Objectives for Learning Outcomes

After completing this course, you will be better able to:

  • Describe the role of medications, vaccines, and medical supplies in response to a public health emergency, such as an act of terrorism, a natural disaster, or an influenza pandemic.
  • List and describe the pharmaceutical resources available for public health crises and describe how these resources could be used within local communities.
  • Describe the purpose and general process flow of a mass dispensing clinic or a point of dispensing (POD).
  • Explain the roles of public health staff and volunteers in a POD.

Additional Information

Course summary
Maximum credit available: 
  • 1.00 Contact hours
  • 0.00 Pharmacology hours at the advanced practice level

Please see the module developer list in the course content.

Available Credit

  • 1.00 Contact hours
  • 0.00 Pharmacology hours at the advanced practice level


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