Project EQUIPP is the grassroots initiative to achieve equal immunization policies & practices for state, county and local law enforcement/security officers, firefighters, EMT/Paramedics, public health and local government responders, utilities and public works personnel, and preparedness volunteers. When compared to their Federal counterparts in the Departments of Defense, Justice, State, and Homeland Securirty, these civilian, emergency responders lack vaccine protection against biological threats such as anthrax and smallpox. And important deficiencies exist in the immunization coverage for other more commonly encountered contagions like influenza, hepatitis A & B, tetanus, and pertussis.
Since its inception in 2008, Project EQUIPP has worked to close these gaps and to compel the release of new U.S. Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) recommendations that support offering anthrax immunization to civilian emergency responders on a voluntary basis. With this equality achieved in policy, the Project moves into the immunization practices phase of the initiative which includes education about vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccination for those at risk.
As it pertains to anthrax, it has been evident that some federal partners are not ready to acknowledge the impact of antibiotic-resistant anthrax. Even more concerning is that preparedness volunteers and emergency responders are not being proactively informed that antibiotics may fail to protect them as they perform their duties. Moreover, federal public health leaders are restricted from providing access to the anthrax vaccine to local civilian emergency services personnel even as millions of stockpiled doses of the anthrax vaccine expire unused each year.
Project EQUIPP finds this status quo unacceptable and has drafted plans to introduce an "all-hazards" immunization
program for the Missouri Homeland Security Regional Response System of emergency services personnel and volunteers. To be sure, this program is not soley about anthrax preparedness. It will also aim to improve immunization rates against all vaccine preventable diseases for which an FDA-licensed vaccine exists. The Project is continuing to communicate and collaborate with the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services - Immunization Branch, the Missouri Office of Homeland Security, the State Emergency Management Agency, and responder organizations such as the Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, the Missouri Sheriff's Association, the Fire Fighters Association of Missouri, and the Missouri Fire Chiefs Association among others.
One constant obstacle to achieving equal immunization practices and best possible protection for these selfless defenders of Main Street USA is securing the funding to acquire and administer the vaccines. Thus it is imperative that short-dated surplus vaccine doses be acquired from the U.S. Strategic National Stockpile. Alternatively, Project EQUIPP is exploring partnerships with nonprofit organizations that are dedicated to First Responder community and studying "Crowdfunding" mechanisms to cover the not-inconsequential costs to provide this "Inner Armor" to civilian emergency responders and disaster response volunteers.
We are always seeking philanthropic partners and stakeholders who can provide grants and in-kind support. If you are able to help, please click here to contact Dr. Zink. Thank you kindly!