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Authority of States to Purchase Vaccines: A Review of Laws in Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota

posted on Wed, Sep 26 2018 1:09 pm by The Network for Public Health Law

Vaccines are funded and administered through a combination of private and public systems and are administered in various settings, including private practices as well as federally qualified, rural, school-based and community health centers, local public health agencies, schools, immunization events and retail locations.

While private practices account for the majority of vaccinations, public and other settings are a critical source of vaccines for individuals who experience financial, geographic, or other access barriers.

States have adopted a wide range of strategies to support efficient and cost-effective vaccine

purchase and delivery, including state-level funding and policy approaches (for example, purchasing vaccines from the federal Vaccines for Children Program) as well as educational, operational and financing strategies aimed at helping public and private vaccine providers.

A state department of health employee conducting an analysis of certain states’ ability to purchase vaccines to dispense to school districts and local health departments contacted the Network for assistance. The specific states of interest were: Iowa, Michigan, and Minnesota.

The Network identified several provisions that were relevant to the authority of the states of interest to purchase vaccines.


Iowa Code Ann. § 7D.29(3)

  • This statute states that Iowa’s Executive Council may approve requests from the Department of Public Health to authorize payments regarding the purchase of vaccines. 
  • “The executive council shall receive requests from the Iowa department of public health relative to the purchase, storing, and distribution of vaccines and medication for prevention, prophylaxis, or treatment. Upon review and after compliance with subsection 2, the executive council may approve the request and may authorize payment of the necessary expense. The expense authorized by the executive council under this subsection shall be paid from the appropriations referred to in subsection 1.”

Iowa Code Ann. § 135.142(1)

  • This statute authorizes the Department of Public Health to purchase vaccines to prepare for or to control a public health disaster.
  • “The department may purchase and distribute antitoxins, serums, vaccines, immunizing agents, antibiotics, and other pharmaceutical agents or medical supplies as deemed advisable in the interest of preparing for or controlling a public health disaster.”


Mich. Comp. Laws Ann. § 333.9111(1)

  • This statute authorizes the Department of Health and Human Services to purchase pharmaceutical products and to provide them to local health departments at no cost.
  • ”The department may develop, produce, purchase, and receive by gift pharmaceutical, biologic, and diagnostic products and by-products for human, veterinary, or agricultural use. . . . The department shall provide and distribute these products and by-products at no cost upon request of local health departments, hospitals, or physicians for use within this state if considered necessary by the department to protect the public health.”


Minn. Stat. Ann. § 151.37, subd. 10

  • This section authorizes the Commissioner of Health to purchase vaccines.
  • The commissioner of health, in preparation for and in carrying out the duties of sections 144.05, 144.4197, and 144.4198, may purchase, store, and distribute antituberculosis drugs, biologics, vaccines, antitoxins, serums, immunizing agents, antibiotics, antivirals, antidotes, other pharmaceutical agents, and medical supplies to treat and prevent communicable disease.”


Network attorneys are available to answer questions on this and other public health topics at no cost to you, and can assist you in using law to advance your public health initiatives. Contact a Network Attorney in your area for more information.

The legal information and assistance provided in this document does not constitute legal advice or legal representation. For legal advice, readers should consult a lawyer in their state.