(a) Declaration of legislative findings and purpose. -- The Legislature finds and declares that early immunization for preventable diseases represents one of the most cost-effective means of disease prevention. The savings which can be realized from immunization, compared to the cost of health care necessary to treat the illness and lost productivity, are substantial. Immunization of children at an early age serves as a preventive measure both in time and money and is essential to maintain our children's health and well-being. The costs of childhood immunizations should not be allowed to preclude the benefits available from a comprehensive, medically supervised child immunization service.
(b) The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health shall acquire vaccine for the prevention of polio, measles, meningitis, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis-b, haemophilus influenzae-b and other vaccine preventable diseases as considered necessary or required by law and shall distribute the same, free of charge, in quantities he or she considers necessary, to public and private providers, to be used by them for the benefit of citizens to check contagions and control epidemics.
(c) The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, through the immunization program, has the responsibility to ensure the distribution, free of charge, of federally supplied vaccines to public and private providers to be used to check contagions and control epidemics: Provided, That the public and private providers may not make a charge for the vaccine itself when administering it to a patient. The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health, through the immunization program, shall keep an accurate record of any vaccine delivered as provided in this section.
(d) The commissioner is charged with establishing an Immunization Advisory Committee. The advisory committee is to make recommendations on the distribution of vaccines acquired pursuant to this section, advise the secretary on the changing needs and opportunities for immunization from known diseases for all persons across their life span and track immunization compliance in accordance with federal and state laws. Members of the Immunization Advisory Committee shall be designated and appointed by the commissioner no later than July 1, 2015. The advisory committee shall be comprised of representatives from the following groups: Public health nursing, public health officers, primary health care providers, pediatricians, family practice physicians, health care administrators, pharmacists, the Commissioner of the Bureau for Medical Services, or his or her designee, the health insurance industry, the Director of the Public Employees Insurance Agency, or his or her designee, the self-insured industry and a minimum of three consumers. The state epidemiologist serves as an advisor to the committee. The commissioner, or his or her designee, serves as the chair of the advisory committee. Members of the advisory committee serve four-year terms.
(e) An advisory committee member may not participate in a matter involving specific parties that will have a direct and predicable effect on their financial interest. An effect will not be direct in instances where the chain of causation is attenuated or is contingent upon the occurrence of events that are speculative.
(f) All health insurance policies and prepaid care policies issued in this state which provide coverage for the children of the insured shall provide coverage for child immunization services to include the cost of the vaccine, if incurred by the health care provider, and all costs of administration from birth through age eighteen years. These services are exempt from any deductible, per-visit charge and/or copayment provisions which may be in force in these policies or contracts. This section does not exempt other health care services provided at the time of immunization from any deductible or copayment provisions.
(g) Attending physicians, midwives, nurse practitioners, hospitals, birthing centers, clinics and other appropriate health care providers shall provide parents of newborns and preschool age children with information on the following immunizations: Diphtheria, polio, mumps, meningitis, measles, rubella, tetanus, hepatitis-b, haemophilus influenzae-b, chickenpox and whooping cough. This information should include the availability of free immunization services for children.
Note: WV Code updated with legislation passed through the 2016 Regular Session
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