Dr. Thomas Zink is the biosecurity advisor for the City of Saint Louis and Washington University School of Medicine collaboration known as PREPARE (Program to Ready Emergency Personnel for an Anthrax Response Event). Dr. Zink has considerable experience in vaccine policy and immunization practices, having served as the Senior Director of GSK Vaccines and as the inaugural Chief Medical Officer of Emergent BioSolutions. He is the former biosecurity advisor to the Mayor of Saint Louis, Missouri (2015-2020) and to the Missouri Department of Homeland Security (2007 to 2016). Dr. Zink is a retired associate professor for biosecurity and disaster preparedness at Saint Louis University (2009 – 2016) and received his Bachelor of Arts in Biology and Doctor of Medicine from the University of Missouri, Kansas City School of Medicine.
Podcasts / Webinars
In 2001, anthrax was deliberately sent to multiple targets via the U.S. Postal System. In response to the attacks, several emergency responders began a grassroots advocacy program called Project Equal Immunization Policies & Practices (EQUIPP). Coinciding with the Obama administration’s authorization of the First Responder Anthrax Preparedness Act, Project EQUIPP pushed for the deployment of surplus anthrax vaccine doses stored in the Strategic National Stockpile. This idea was met with bipartisan Congressional support, resulting in the First Responder Vaccine Initiative (FRVI).
This voluntary pre-event vaccination program was ultimately delegated to the Department of Homeland Security’s (DHS) Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (CWMD) Office, including partnerships with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and specific jurisdictions to aid in vaccine distribution. The Saint Louis Metropolitan area was selected as the first jurisdiction for this effort, partnering with the Washington University – St. Louis School of Medicine Emergency Care Research Center (ECRC). The combined educational and vaccination project was aptly named Project to Ready Emergency Personnel for an Anthrax Response Event (PREPARE). By preemptively receiving the anthrax vaccine, emergency response providers can protect themselves against anthrax and ensure they are able to safely respond to an anthrax incident. Since 2019, PREPARE has educated over 1600 emergency services personnel and has more than 1100 participants currently receiving the vaccination series. This webinar discusses the history, implementation, and impact of the FRVI and PREPARE efforts.