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20 Years of Success

CDC Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Vaccines for Children Program

This year marks the 20th Anniversary of passage of the legislation that created the Vaccines for Children Program (VFC), one of our nation’s most successful public-private partnerships for improving public health.  This national program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them, and helps many more children have a better chance of getting their vaccines according to the recommended immunization schedule, protecting babies, children and adolescents from 16 serious diseases including measles, mumps, whooping cough, chickenpox, flu and diphtheria.

In 1989 - 1991, a measles epidemic in the United States resulted in tens of thousands of cases of measles and hundreds of deaths. Upon investigation, CDC found that more than half of the children who had measles had not been immunized, even though many of them had seen a health care provider.

In partial response to that epidemic, Congress included the creation of the Vaccines for Children Program in the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) of 1993, which passed on August 10, 1993.  VFC became operational October 1, 1994.

Funding for the VFC program is approved by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and allocated through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). CDC buys vaccines at a discount and distributes them to enrolled VFC providers at no charge.

Nationwide, there are more than 44,000 doctors enrolled in the VFC Program. Each state's VFC Coordinator can provide a list of doctors enrolled in the VFC Program. Other places that provide vaccinations are:

The VFC program has contributed directly to a substantial increase in childhood immunization coverage levels and has made a significant contribution to the elimination of disparities in vaccination coverage among young children. These improvements in childhood immunization coverage have, in turn, led to the lowest vaccine-preventable disease incidence ever recorded.  Today, nearly 20 years later, the VFC program continues to play a vital role in protecting our nation’s health by sustaining high childhood immunization coverage levels to ensure vaccine-preventable disease incidence remains low.

Graphics / Images

  • Vaccines for Children

    "Vaccines for Children" logo

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  • Vaccines for Children

    Increasing Measles Vaccine Coverage Rates Among Preschool-Aged Children: 1967 - 2012
    Full Slide [81 KB]

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  • Photo: Young girl receiving a vaccine from a physician

    The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program helps provide vaccines to children whose parents or guardians may not be able to afford them.

    This is a description for image 1

  • Photo: Young girl receiving a vaccine from a physician

    VCF vaccines protect babies, young children, and adolescents from 16 diseases (see the list).

     

  • Photo:Toddler receiving a shot from a health care worker

    Underinsured children are eligible to receive vaccines only at Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC) or Rural Health Clinics (RHC). An FQHC is a type of provider that meets certain criteria under Medicare and Medicaid programs. If you need help locating an FQHC or RHC, contact your state VFC coordinator

     

  • Photo: Teenager receiving a shot from a health care worker

    Your child is eligible for the VFC Program if he or she is younger than 19 years of age and is one of the following: Medicaid-eligible, uninsured, underinsured, or American Indian or Alaska Native.

     

  • Photo: Teenager receiving a shot from a health care worker

    The Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program offers vaccines at no cost for eligible children through VFC-enrolled doctors. Find out if your child qualifies. Vaccinating on time means healthier children, families and communities.

     

Contact Information

CDC Media Relations
(404) 639-3286
media@cdc.gov

Spokespersons

Anne Schuchat, MD

Biography

Photo: Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS)

The VFC Program is one of our most successful public-private partnerships for improving public health. Managed by public health and implemented in more than 44,000 participating VFC provider sites around the country, the VFC Program moved the responsibility for vaccinations from public health departments to public and private medical practices in support of the “medical home” concept for children. By receiving their vaccines in the medical home where they receive their other health services, the continuity of care for children in our country has improved.

Anne Schuchat, MD (RADM, USPHS) - Assistant Surgeon General, United States Public Health Service; Director, National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

 
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