Public Health Emergency Law

Legal Preparedness Series

ASTHO has developed a series of toolkits that address the key information needs of public health officials in understanding and using legal authorities to prepare for and respond to public health emergencies. This series arose from needs identified by state and local public health agencies regarding certain legal questions and uncertainties that were perceived to be barriers to effective planning and response to infectious disease outbreaks, natural disasters, intentional acts, and other emergency events. The toolkits and their component documents are designed to be used as a resource to assist in education, training, and planning activities to prepare for emergencies, as well as to serve as a quick reference resource during an emergency response to an event.


Emergency Authority & Immunity Toolkit outlines key concepts of how federal and state emergency declarations initiate various response authorities and liability protections.

Emergency Use Authorization Toolkit reviews the use of vaccines and other countermeasures administered under federal Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) protocols and questions about liability. 

Emergency Volunteer Toolkit addresses key concepts regarding emergency response volunteers, including types of volunteers, federal and state laws governing or affecting volunteers, and volunteer registration.

Public Health & Information Sharing Toolkit addresses key concepts regarding public health agencies' authority to collect, use, and share information to prepare and respond to a public health emergency.

Public Health & Schools Toolkit discusses legal and policy issues associated with undertaking public health emergency preparedness and response activities within schools and other educational settings. 

Scope of Practice Toolkit reviews key issues regarding the allowable scope of practice of various health care professionals and expanding that scope during emergencies.

ASTHO received funding to develop the series of toolkits from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as part of the “Cooperative Agreement to Strengthen & Improve the Nation’s Public Health Capacity” Award #5U38HM000454.