Health Care Closed Points of Dispensing

Understanding Points of Dispensing

Points of dispensing (POD) are community locations at which state and local agencies dispense and administer medical countermeasures (MCMs) to the public. MCMs such as vaccines, antiviral drugs, antibiotics, antitoxins, and chemical antidotes are used to effectively prevent, mitigate, or treat adverse health effects of an intentional, accidental, or naturally occurring public health emergency.[1]

To aid in rapidly dispensing MCMs, the local public health department will plan on using two types of PODs, open and closed. Open PODs are typically located at public locations such as arenas, community centers, or schools. These locations are often operated by local public health agencies and are where they dispense or administer MCMs to the public. Closed PODs are sites staffed and managed by organizations and agencies (both public and private) to dispense MCMs only to their own populations while continuing operations during a public health emergency. Open and closed PODs can and should be used simultaneously.

To learn more about the concepts related to MCM dispensing see Medical Countermeasures (MCM) and Points of Dispensing (POD) Basics fact sheet.

Planning for Health Care Closed PODs

Engaging community health care partners to manage and operate closed PODs can augment public health operations and strengthen community preparedness. Local public health agencies can collaborate with health care facilities to engage them in closed POD planning. Health care organizations that function as closed PODs may provide medication to their staff, family, patients and residents. Doing so may help ensure that their workforce can continue operations during a public health emergency and reduce the population at open PODs.

The CDC video, Taking Care of BusinessExternal, describes how organizations benefit from functioning as closed PODs.

Planning for closed PODs is similar across various types of organizations. The links below provide information and resources health care organizations may find useful while planning for closed PODs, as well as a primer on MCMs and closed PODs.

Considerations specific to health care agencies can be found in the First Steps in Planning for Closed Point of Dispensing Operations planning aid. The Becoming a Closed Point of Dispensing (POD) Partner fact sheet is designed to help health care leaders understand the benefits of having their organizations participate in jurisdictional closed POD programs.

The Closed Point of Dispensing (POD) Roles and Responsibilities fact sheet outlines public health and health care organizations’ roles in establishing health care closed PODs. A key point to remember is that planning for closed PODs is an ongoing process that requires ongoing commitment and engagement from both health care and public health agencies.

[1] 2016 Public Health Emergency Medical Countermeasures Enterprise (PHEMCE) Strategy and Implementation PlanCdc-pdfExternal. 2016. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Click on the following tabs to access resources.

The Strategic National Stockpile (SNS) manages medical countermeasures at the federal level to support a response to a public health threat. If a state experiences a health threat, the governor can request SNS resources if state and local jurisdictions do not have the resources to meet the needs of the response. In coordination with the affected jurisdiction, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services makes the decision whether to deploy SNS assets or other assistance to the affected state. The state will coordinate with local jurisdictions to distribute the MCMs from SNS to affected areas. For years, state and local officials have worked together to develop plans to receive and distribute MCMs. In many communities, health care organizations play a critical role in ensuring that MCMs reach the affected population.

The following resources developed by CDC and other federal agencies may be useful when developing a closed POD plan. Closed POD planning should be coordinated with local public health departments.

Additional information and tools related to closed POD planning can be found in CDC’s Online Technical Resource and Assistance Center (On-TRAC). In addition, On-TRAC provides peer-to-peer discussion boards where users can share best practices and lessons learned. Health care organizations can coordinate with local public health departments to access On-TRAC resources.


The National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) has materials available for download on its websiteExternal. The materials are designed for businesses, faith-based and community-based organizations, colleges and universities, and federal agencies. This material aids them in partnering with their local health departments as closed PODs for mass dispensing of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to employees, family members, and clients. Documents are organized in three separate folders focused on training, planning, and response.

  • The training resources consist of a training plan and a sample just-in-time training presentation.
  • The planning resources consist of checklists and procedures to aid in planning for the activation and deactivation of a Closed POD operation.
  • The response resources consist of checklists and worksheets designed to aid in conducting closed POD operations.

The following resources were created by health departments across the country and may be useful when working on a closed point of dispensing (POD) plan.


Do you know of a resource that is not listed? If so, please send an e-mail to

Disclaimer: Web addresses of nonfederal organizations are provided solely as a service to readers. Provision of an address does not constitute an endorsement of this organization by CDC or the federal government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of other organizations’ webpages.


The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP)External, Public Health Service Act (PHSA)External, and emergency use authoritiesExternal, provide legal protections for individuals and organizations during public health emergencies. These laws facilitate public and private sector response to a public health threat by providing

  • Flexible powers for rapid response
  • Limits on responder liability
  • Shifts in situational standards of care and professional scopes of practice
  • Waivers on certain regulatory provisions

The Legal Issues for Healthcare Providers and Their Attorneys fact sheet introduces legal protections during public health emergencies.

The extent of these legal protections depends on the conditions associated with the declared emergency. Health care organizations should collaborate with local public health departments to identify, prioritize, or deconflict legal issues and produce solutions for training, mobilization, and demobilization of the closed POD. Helpful resources are listed below.

Disclaimer: Information available on this website that was not developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not necessarily represent any CDC policy, position, or endorsement of that information or of its sources. The information contained on this website is not legal advice; if you have questions about a specific law or its application, you should consult your legal counsel.

[1] This document was prepared prior to the passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013; for current information federal emergency use authorities, please see

[2] This document was prepared prior to the passage of the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013; for current information federal emergency use authorities, please see

Page last reviewed: November 16, 2018, 08:10 AM