Vaccines for Children: Providing Health And Safety For The Vulnerable

Just mention the word “vaccine,” and the blood pressure of every parent in the room is likely to go up a few notches. For most of them, that anxiety is a result of all the media controversy surrounding vaccines for children. They worry about whether they’re making the right decision, and they worry about whether other people will approve of their decision.

For other people, though, the anxiety is about something much more basic: how to pay for all the vaccines their kids need to stay safe and healthy. I had three babies in less than three years, so believe me when I tell you it adds up fast. Some of those visits looked like an assembly line, with bare thighs or backsides lined up all along the exam table. Fortunately, we had good insurance. But for the uninsured, the cost seems like an insurmountable obstacle. That’s where Vaccines for Children (VFC) comes in.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) runs Vaccines for Children, a federally funded program that provides vaccines for children whose families are unable to pay. The CDC buys the vaccines at a discount and distributes them to local public health agencies. Those agencies then distribute them to doctors who have signed up to be part of the program. The vaccines themselves are free, although some doctors may charge an administrative fee.

Who Is Eligible?

Children ages 19 and younger and who meet one or more of the following criteria are eligible to receive vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP):

  • Medicaid-eligible
  • Uninsured
  • American Indian or Alaska Native

How Do I Find a Doctor?

Nationwide, more than 44,000 doctors participate in the Vaccines for Children program. Your state’s VFC coordinator will guide you to a provider in your area. In addition, many public health agencies participate.

How Can I Help?

Want to become a VFC provider? Learn more on the CDC’s Vaccines for Children web page for providers or contact your state’s VFC coordinator. If you’re not a doctor, help spread the world so the people who need this service the most will know it’s available.

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