January 15, 2013
IEMA Working with 64 Pharmacies to Make Pills Accessible
SPRINGFIELD – People living within a 10-mile radius of the state’s six operating nuclear power plants can now obtain their free Potassium Iodide (KI) pills from one of 64 participating pharmacies. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency (IEMA) today announced the addition of 16 Community Pharmacy Prescription Network pharmacies to the distribution program. The pills are also available at 48 participating Walgreens stores.
IEMA launched the KI distribution program in late 2012 by mailing vouchers to more than 60,000 homes within the Emergency Planning Zones (EPZs) of each plant. The vouchers can be redeemed at participating pharmacies for a two-day supply of KI for every member of the household.
KI is a non-prescription drug used to protect the thyroid from radioactive iodine, which could be released during a nuclear power plant accident. The nuclear power plants in Illinois are Braidwood, Byron, Clinton, Dresden, LaSalle and Quad-Cities.
"The addition of these 16 pharmacies will make it even more convenient for people to pick up KI pills for their families," said IEMA Director Jonathon Monken. "So far, we’ve seen a good response to this offer, with nearly 20,000 pills already distributed."
Monken noted that while KI only protects the thyroid gland, it will provide additional protection to people living near the nuclear plants in the event of an accident. He said evacuation and sheltering in place are still the most effective ways to protect the whole body from radiation exposure, which remains the top priority.
IEMA is also partnering with the Illinois Poison Center, which will field questions about the over-the-counter medication. The Illinois Poison Center’s hotline is 800-222-1222.
IEMA obtained 215,000 pills at no cost from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The state also maintains a supply of KI pills for emergency workers who would work in or near a contaminated area during a nuclear power plant accident.
This is the second time the state of Illinois has distributed KI pills to residents near nuclear power plants. In 2002, the Illinois Department of Nuclear Safety (IDNS) offered KI pills to people living within the EPZs. IDNS merged with IEMA in 2003.