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What Should I Do In A Public Health Emergency?

What is a public health emergency?
A public health emergency is a disaster, infectious disease outbreak, bioterrorist attack, or other significant or catastrophic event that threatens individual or community health.

How will I know if there is a public health emergency in Cobb and/or Douglas counties?
Monitoring official sources, for example, Cobb & Douglas Public Health (CDPH), the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will help ensure that the information you receive is accurate and factual. Cobb & Douglas Public Health releases official information through the news media, on our website, and via Twitter (@CDPHga) and Facebook (@CDPHga).

What should I do when official sources say that a public health emergency exists?
Follow the instructions provided by official sources. If the situation calls for the public to take medication, CDPH will establish Points of Distribution (PODs) where people can receive the medication.

What is a Point of Distribution (POD)?
A Point of Distribution is a temporary location or locations designed to quickly deliver medications, vaccinations, or other life-saving measures to the public. Cobb & Douglas Public Health plans to operate drive-through PODs at which you will not need to exit your vehicle (What if I don’t have a vehicle? – See below).

Where is the nearest POD?
Cobb & Douglas Public Health will announce POD location(s) through the news media, on our website, and via Twitter (@CDPHga) and Facebook (@CDPHga).

Who can get medication at a POD? Do I have to live in Cobb or Douglas counties?
Anyone who knows, believes, or suspects that they have been exposed to the public health threat that caused a POD to be opened is welcome to get medication. Residency in Cobb or Douglas county is not a requirement and you will not have to show ID.

What does the medication cost? Do I have to have medical insurance?
The medication distributed at a POD is provided free of charge. You will not need to pay for the medication or present an insurance card.

Can I get enough medication for everyone in my household?
If the medication is in pill form, one person can get enough medication for everyone in the household by providing the required information listed below. If vaccinations are required, Cobb & Douglas Public Health will provide instructions on how to get everyone in your household vaccinated.

What information is needed to receive medication? Do I have to fill out a form?
You may use whichever one of these options is most convenient. Note that an Express Lane may be available if you arrive with a completed form.

  • Download and print a Head of Household (HOH) form (English), complete it, and bring it with you to the POD; or
  • Get a Head of Household (HOH) form from the POD staff and fill it out there. This option takes the most time.

You will need the following information for each person for whom you are picking up medication:

  • Name (First and last)
  • Age
  • Date of Birth
  • Weight
  • Medication allergies (e.g. doxycycline, ciprofloxacin, amoxycillin, etc.)

How long should I expect to be at the POD?
Our goal is to get visitors through the POD as quickly as possible, but long lines are possible. Your patience and understanding will help, and it’s a good idea to do the following before you leave for the POD:

  • Qualify for an Express Lane by completing your HOH form at home;
  • Use the restroom (facilities may be limited at POD sites);
  • If filling out a HOH form at the POD, collect the necessary information from people for whom you are picking up medication;
  • Dress appropriately for the weather;
  • Fill your vehicle with gas and pack snacks and water since traffic may be heavy.

Can’t I just go to a hospital or to my doctor to receive the medication?
No. PODs receive and distribute medication in a public health emergency so hospitals and other medical providers can focus on their primary mission. You should only go to a hospital or other medical provider if you require medical attention or are otherwise directed by public health officials.

What if English is not my primary language?
There will usually be interpreters available and some printed information will typically be available in other languages.

What if I don’t have transportation to a POD?
Cobb & Douglas Public Health will provide information through the news media, on our website, and via Twitter (@CDPHga) and Facebook (@CDPHga) about how people without transportation can get the necessary medication.

I went to a POD and got medication. What do I do now?
Follow the directions provided with the medication and continue monitoring official information sources. You must take all of the medication for it to be effective, so be sure to finish it unless directed otherwise by public health officials or your physician.

I want to help. Can I volunteer in a public health emergency?
Yes, there are several ways to become eligible to help in a public health emergency. Please choose whichever path works best for you:

  • Join the Medical Reserve Corps (MRC). A medical background is not necessary; click here to learn more about the MRC and how to volunteer.
  • Become a Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) member.
  • Sign up for the Georgia State Emergency Registry of Volunteers (SERVGA). A medical background is not necessary. Please go to and see their FAQ page for more information.