Emergency Preparedness & Response
Pharmacy Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)
In emergencies such as terrorist attacks or pandemics, large numbers of people may be exposed to disease-causing germs. Medical countermeasures (MCMs) are medicines (e.g., antibiotics, antivirals, or antitoxins) that may be given in support of treatment or as prophylaxis (oral or vaccination) to the identified population in accordance with public health guidelines or recommendations. Lives may depend on dispensing MCMs to a large number of people in a short amount of time.
In such an emergency, MDH can request large quantities of MCMs from the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). ASPR maintains a large cache of MCMs called the Strategic National Stockpile (SNS), which can be quickly mobilized for emergency distribution. MDH then works with partners to dispense the MCMs to the health care system and the public directly.
Coordination between public health programs and private sector pharmacies in planning and response is essential to expanding access to MCMs during a public health emergency. Improved coordination reduces severity and ultimately saves lives by leveraging the strengths of all partners, including existing pharmaceutical and vaccine management, distribution, and administration infrastructures. Improved coordination prior to and during a public health emergency also improves relationships, not only for public health emergencies, but also for routine public health delivery.
What is an MOU?
An MOU is a memorandum of understanding that sets forth the terms between two or more parties. Often referred to as a "handshake agreement", MOUs are not legally binding but make it possible to plan for action ahead of time, rather than in the midst of an emergency.
Why should public health and pharmacies have MOUs?
MOUs offer benefits to both public health agencies and pharmacies. Pharmacies engage with people of all ages across the lifespan and are often a trusted source of information and assistance in communities. As pharmacies become more involved in providing immunizations to the public, an MOU also can help ensure that all pandemic vaccinators have appropriate access to vaccine, information, and supplies.
An MOU's benefits to community pharmacies include:
- the ability to develop a distribution approach in advance;
- opportunities to educate public health about how pharmacies plan and respond to emergencies; and,
- opportunities to reduce waste, improve efficiency, clarify expectations, and strengthen partnerships with public health for both pandemic and routine healthcare situations.
An MOU between public health agencies and pharmacies helps pharmacies better serve their patients and customers and helps public health agencies reach the public more efficiently.
Who can participate?
All pharmacies in Minnesota may participate.
Which pharmacies have signed the MOU?
Who should sign the MOU?
Leadership within your pharmacy should make this decision. It could be the pharmacy manager, pharmacist, or other administrator.
If I am a national community pharmacy chain, do I have to sign for each site located in Minnesota?
No. If you are a national community pharmacy chain and recognized as such, you can sign one MOU.
How do I sign the MOU?
Use the REDCap survey link below to review and sign the MOU electronically. Once you complete the survey, save a copy of your MOU as a PDF.
- Pharmacy MOU for Coordination of Medical Countermeasures Dispensing and Administration
- Appendix A: Readiness Guidance for Pandemic Influenza Vaccination in Pharmacy Settings (PDF)
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where can I get more information?
- Pandemic Influenza (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention)
- Immunization Delivery in Pharmacy Settings (Minnesota Department of Health)