Municipal MEDS PODs free vaccination clinics

Faced with the challenge of vaccinating all residents for H1N1, Rhode Island State Department of Health started a new strategy with its municipalities to push out the vaccines quickly.

Beginning January 16, 2010, 32 out of 39 Rhode Island cities and towns were to begin opening municipal points of dispensing (PODs) to hold free H1N1 vaccination clinics for the general public. Anyone 18 years or older was to be vaccinated at these public clinics. No appointment or identification was to be required at the clinics. Rhode Island has set a goal of vaccinating 500,000 people, almost half of its population, by Valentine's Day.

About the PODs

The clinics were organized by municipalities in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health. All the municipalities in Rhode Island have been working with the emergency preparedness program for several years. They developed and drilled their Medical Emergency Distribution System (MEDS) plans, which is also recognized as Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) in other states, for mass distribution in previous years. They believe that the H1N1 vaccination is a real-life opportunity to use those plans. All those municipal PODs are planned locations, most of them schools, which are approved from the Department of Health to give medicines and vaccines to all of their municipalities' citizens in an emergency.

For the H1N1 vaccination in this case, each of the 27 cities and towns chose a location to hold the clinic based on its MEDS plans.

All participants were to be asked to sign a consent form to receive the H1N1 vaccine.

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