PHOENIX (December 16, 2020) -- For the next several weeks, three letters will be at the center of COVID-19 vaccination efforts: POD.
A Point of Dispensing (POD) site is a location where designated populations can obtain critical emergency supplies during and after an emergency. Depending on the situation, they can be open to the public or open only to specific groups.
For Phase 1A of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, doses of the vaccine will be distributed to eligible healthcare personnel at five regional Points of Dispensing (PODs) across the county in conjunction with Abrazo Health, Banner Health, Dignity Health, HonorHealth, Mayo Clinic, and Valleywise Healthcare.
PODs might be a new concept to the public, but they are familiar to staff and volunteers with Maricopa County Public Health. Setting them up is a part of regular emergency preparedness planning that takes place whether there’s a pandemic or not (see video below).
“By setting up practice PODs and refining our processes for how to get people through quickly, we have laid the groundwork for success for the upcoming distribution of COVID-19 vaccine,” said Marcy Flanagan, Executive Director of Maricopa County Department of Public Health.
POD drill at Basha High School, 2018
In recent weeks, Public Health has coordinated with healthcare partners, law enforcement, EMS, emergency managers, and others to make sure the PODs distributing COVID-19 vaccine have good processes in place. There will be one POD in each region (northwest, southwest, central, northeast, southeast).
The first vaccine doses were delivered to PODs this week, with the first vaccinations set to begin on Thursday, December 17. So far, over 27,000 healthcare workers have completed the prescreening.
Members of the public should keep in mind we are entering the first phase of vaccination efforts. Many people will have to wait until spring or summer to get vaccinated, and that won’t happen at a POD.
“Right now, vaccine doses are limited and only select groups are eligible. PODs are the most efficient way to get large numbers of healthcare workers and EMS personnel vaccinated quickly,” said Flanagan. “Eventually, we hope people will be able to get a COVID-19 vaccine much like they would the flu vaccine, at a doctor’s office or pharmacy.”
Because it will take some time for enough people in our community to get vaccinated to the point that disease cannot spread, Flanagan requested that residents and visitors take other steps that are already available to them. “In the meantime, we all need to continue practicing preventive measures such as social distancing, mask wearing, staying home when sick, and limiting close contact with people who do not live with us.”