Dispensing Partners


A POD, or Point of Dispensing, is a place that can be opened for the purpose of dispensing (distributing) medication or giving vaccinations to the public during a health emergency. The public is directed to come, or is 'pulled' to this kind of POD to get the emergency treatment being dispensed. In addition to the public PODS, many communities may have a different type of POD called a Closed or "Push" POD which is not open to the general public.


Closed PODs operate in partnership with organizations that are willing to dispense to the populations they employ or serve. It may be a challenge or impossible for some of these populations to get to a public POD, or the group to be served by be so large that the use of dispensing partnerships becomes necessary in order to decrease the burden on the local health department. Closed PODs are sometimes referred to as Push PODs because they “push” medications out to people.

Common Closed (“Push”) POD Dispensing Partners can include:

  • Large employers from both private and government organizations
  • Hospitals, nursing homes, and residential care facilities
  • Correctional facilities
  • Higher education institutions
  • Large hotels 
  • Community and Faith-based organizations
  • Organizations with expertise delivering products
  • Any other group or organization who is willing to dispense to others, but not necessarily open themselves up to dispense to the general public (this could be emergency response teams who are delivering antibiotics door-to-door, or even postal carriers who are delivering door-to-door)


In an emergency that requires urgent dispensing of medication or vaccines to very large portions of the public, health departments in the Bay Area will rely on dispensing partnerships to help speed up the process. These partnerships will provide assistance to get medications out to the people in the quickest and most effective manner. If a health emergency is declared, the dispensing of antibiotics may be performed by persons other than doctors, pharmacists, nurses or other medically licensed persons. Dispensing Partners will use screening and dispensing protocols developed through the collaborative efforts of Bay Area Health Departments to safely dispense emergency medications.

Dispensing partnerships ensure that those who might not be able to come to a public POD will be served. They also help local health departments by decreasing the number of people who must come to Open (public) PODs. For example, an organization with 5,000 workers that decides to dispense to its employees and employees’ family members, can potentially reach 20,000 people, which would substantially decrease the burden on other PODs. Studies show that employees who work at organizations that will be dispensing medication to their employees and employee families are more likely to come to work during an emergency and help the organization maintain its continuity of operations.


  • Respond in partnership and under the guidance and protocol developed by the local health department.
  • Know the community or employees that they serve very well.
  • Know how to reach their population quickly.
  • Know how to communicate with their populations effectively.


The first step to becoming a Dispensing Partner is to contact your local health department and express your interest in learning more about public health emergency preparedness. Ask about opportunities that exist for dispensing partnerships.

You can also do this by completing the Dispensing Partner Pre-Registration form.  After you submit the form, public health emergency preparedness planners from your local health department will contact you to discuss the process and responsibilities of becoming a Dispensing Partner in further detail.

To learn more about the screening process used during an emergency medication dispensing you can visit our Training page and complete Module 4 on the Bay Area Screening Algorithm.