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Our publications keep professionals working across the public, private, and academic sectors informed on the most important developments and issues in health security and biosecurity.

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Getting Medicine to Millions: New Strategies for Mass Distribution

Onora Lien, Beth Maldin, Crystal Franco, Gigi Kwik Gronvall
Date posted:
June 15, 2006
Publication type:

Biosecur Bioterror 2006;4(2):176-182

Mary Ann Liebert, Inc
Available on publisher's website
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Full article as PDF


In a health emergency, such as the aftermath of a bioterrorist attack or in the midst of a pandemic, extraordinary systems and planning will be needed to rapidly distribute medications to millions of people. We investigated one potential solution to this logistical and medical challenge: tapping private sector retail stores for assistance with the distribution of vaccines, antibiotics, or other medical resources during a public health emergency. Many retail businesses have experience in organizing and operating large vaccination clinics for influenza every year, and they have resources that may be useful in a public health emergency. For example, many stores have the necessary outdoor parking as well as the indoor space to accommodate large numbers of people; they have electronic inventory systems and can receive and manage large volumes of goods. We explored the willingness of the private retail industry to work with public health officials for the mass distribution of medicines and vaccines. The results from this qualitative study indicate that the resources within the private sector could be essential in saving lives in a public health emergency; however, these resources may be left untapped if relationships between public health and the private sector are not explored and developed before the next emergency.

Full article as PDF



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