For Release – March 1, 2019 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601
In an effort to prepare communities for a public health emergency, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recently facilitated a number of exercises across the state to ensure readiness if the need for mass immunization arises.
Local emergency response coordinators and regional emergency planners employed through the agency’s Emergency Preparedness and Response Service coordinated efforts with county health departments and community partners to exercise setting up a point of dispensing (POD) unit. In the event of a public health emergency such as anthrax, plague, or pandemic flu, the PODs will be activated in communities to provide large amounts of medication such as antibiotics to the public.
The Mass Immunization and Prophylaxis Strategy (MIPS) is Oklahoma’s program for distributing the Strategic National Stockpile from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Efforts are coordinated with county health departments, local planning committees, law enforcement, emergency management, schools, tribal affiliates, hospitals and others.
Scott Sproat, director of the OSDH Emergency Preparedness and Response Service, said it is important for communities to be prepared to dispense large amounts of specific medication in the event of a public health emergency to the affected area.
“These exercises help us practice the plans we have in place to extend our reach beyond the metropolitan areas as we serve and protect all Oklahomans during a catastrophic health event,” said Sproat. “We rely on partners from other state agencies as well as local communities to accomplish that task.”
In the last few weeks, exercises were held in Sallisaw, Enid, Ada, Altus, Walters, Cordell, Pryor and Beaver. The drills allowed officials to assess setup, facilities, and the flow of traffic at community locations such as community centers and school gymnasiums designated as PODs. In a separate exercise, the OSDH activated the state’s secondary warehouse to be used in the event the primary location is damaged and unavailable for use. Volunteers, such as those with the Oklahoma Medical Reserve Corps (OKMRC), were activated to simulate activities such as inventory tracking and management, which would need to be accomplished in a real-world mobilization.
Volunteers practice processing forms at a POD in Pryor.
Signs direct the flow of traffic at a POD setup in Cordell
Members of the Altus Fire Department assist with setup of a POD in Jackson County.
The state's secondary warehouse is used in the event the primary warehouse is damaged and cannot be utilized.