The potassium iodide pills can partially protect the thyroid gland from radiation exposure if there is a nuclear accident.
The pills, also known as KI tablets, will be distributed Tuesday through Thursday at sites across Pennsylvania. The pills come with instructions on when to take them.
The state has five nuclear plants: Beaver Valley Power Station, Limerick Generating Station, Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Susquehanna Steam Electric Station, and Three Mile Island Nuclear Generating Station.
Locally, it's estimated that some 250,000 people live and work within 10 miles of the Limerick nuclear reactors.
However, officials stress the KI pills are far from a magic bullet.
"It gives a level of protection for the thyroid gland only, not for the rest of the body," said Dr. Joseph DiMino, director of the Montgomery County Health Department. "So even if there's a minor release, at least we can say you have some level of protection."
Dr. DiMino adds, the pills are not a substitute for evacuation.
"You should be taking those tablets as you get out of town!" he said.
People who showed up to get the pills at a distribution center in Gilbertsville, Pa. understood the pills were not a cure-all, but figured if there is an emergency, the pills are worth having.
"I don't think I believe it will work," said Mary Benick of Gilbertsville. "But I'd rather take every precaution that I can."
"Better than nothing. We can see the towers from the back deck of our house," said Mike Markoski of Upper Pottsgrove, Pa.
Pills distributed previously by the state expired on Aug. 31 and should be thrown out.
Drivers must present driver's license at time of pick-up.
Dates and Times:
Tuesday, September 1st 9:30am - 7:30pm
Wednesday, September 2nd 9:30am - 7:30pm
Thursday, September 3rd 9:30am - 7:30pm