§16-3-5. Distribution of free vaccine preventives of disease.

(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 preventative 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. Furthermore, the federal government has established goals that require ninety percent of all children to be immunized by age two and provided funding to allow uninsured children to meet this goal.

(b) The state director of health shall acquire vaccine for the prevention of polio, measles, mumps, rubella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, hepatitis-b, haemophilus influenzae-b and other vaccine preventives of disease as may be deemed necessary or required by law, and shall distribute the same, free of charge, in such quantities as he or she may deem necessary, to county and municipal health officers, to be used by them for the benefit of, and without expense to the citizens within their respective jurisdictions, to check contagions and control epidemics.

(c) The county and municipal health officers shall have the responsibility to properly store and distribute, free of charge, vaccines to private medical or osteopathic physicians within their jurisdictions to be utilized to check contagions and control epidemics: Provided, That the private medical or osteopathic physicians shall not make a charge for the vaccine itself when administering it to a patient. The county and municipal health officers shall provide a receipt to the state director of health for any vaccine delivered as herein provided.

(d) The director of the division of health is charged with establishing a childhood immunization advisory committee to plan for universal access, make recommendations on the distribution of vaccines acquired pursuant to this section and tracking of immunization compliance in accordance with federal and state laws. The childhood immunization advisory committee shall be appointed by the secretary of the department of health and human resources no later than the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred ninety-four, and 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, state medicaid program, the health insurance industry, the public employees insurance agency, the self-insured industry and consumers. The state epidemiologist shall serve as an advisor to the committee. Members of the advisory committee shall serve two-year terms.

(e) 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 sixteen years. These services shall be 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 and/or copayment provisions.

(f) 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, measles, rubella, tetanus, hepatitis-b, haemophilus influenzae-b and whooping cough. This information should include the availability of free immunization services for children.