What is a POD?


A POD, or Point of Dispensing, is a location that can be opened for the purpose of dispensing (distributing) medication or giving vaccinations to the public during a health emergency. PODs are only opened when a large portion of the population is determined to be at risk to a contagious disease or other biological agent.

PODs are designed to get medications out as quickly as possible – in this way they are different from going to a clinic or a doctor’s office. They cannot take time for medical exams or long consultations with doctors. Speak with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about emergency medications or vaccinations.

There are two types of PODS:

  1. Open PODs – these PODs are open to the public.  If a health emergency occurs, you will hear about open PODs on the radio, television, and other forms of public messaging. Open PODs are sometimes referred to as Pull PODs because they draw, or “pull,” people to them to get their medications. 
  2. Closed PODs – these PODs are open only to specific groups. For example, a large company might decide to set up a POD at work for their employees and family. Closed PODs are sometimes referred to as Push PODs because they “push” medications out to people.


A POD would be opened by the Health Department:

  • When there are lots of people who need medication quickly, and
  • When the usual ways of dispensing medication are not enough to help everyone. 


At Open PODs, usually everyone can go to get their medicine.  Sometimes only certain people would go to a POD, for example:

  • Only those people who are believed to be at risk or were exposed (for example, those who ate contaminated food or were exposed to a biological agent).
  • Only to the most vulnerable people, if medication supplies are limited.


A POD is strategically located and set up in a place that is easily accessible by everyone who needs its services. Each County has plans to set up PODs in different locations—at schools, at fairgrounds, at veteran’s halls, in parking lots, at shopping malls, or anywhere that can be easily reached and accommodates large numbers of people. 

If an emergency is declared and a POD is set up in your area, you will be alerted through radio, television, and other emergency alert systems for the public. Information will also be available on your County’s website.