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  1. Why was the VFC program created?

Many parents can't afford to pay for vaccines on their own. When large groups of children go without vaccines, it leaves them unprotected and disease outbreaks can happen. This program allows everyone to stay healthy by getting his or her vaccines on time.

  1. Do I have to bring anything to prove my child is eligible for free vaccines?

No. You do not have to show any proof that your child is eligible for free vaccine. However, your doctor is required to ask you and document the following:

    • Is your child on Medicaid?
    • Does your child have any health insurance coverage?
    • Is your child of American Indian or Alaskan Native heritage?

Many doctors will already have this information on your child in their chart or as part of their normal business records, but if your child’s insurance or Medicaid status changes, you are obligated to inform the doctor’s office of those changes.

  1. The vaccines are free, but what if I can't pay for the doctor visit?

Although the vaccines your child may receive are absolutely free, the doctor still has the right to charge a fee for an office visit. Of course, if your child is on Medicaid, that office visit fee is paid for by Medicaid. But the doctor participating in the VFC program also has the right to charge an administrative fee for giving your child a shot, and this may be in addition to an office visit fee. This administrative fee is similar to a patient’s insurance co-pay, except in this instance the fee helps the doctor to offset their cost of doing business related to administering vaccines. This administrative fee is different in every State, and is capped at a high level limit that cannot be exceeded. There is no low level limit, so the doctor can charge anything from no fee at all, up to the high level cap. In 1994 these fees were published in the Federal Register and remain unchanged.

Please note: If a doctor’s office participates in the Vaccines for Children Program, the doctor is required by law to administer the vaccine to a child even if a child cannot afford to pay the administrative fee. This requirement only applies to the administrative fee for vaccines, not for office visit fees, or any other fees established by a doctor's practice. Parents must make appropriate payment arrangements with providers relative to office visit charges.

  1. My child is behind on their shots. Can they still get VFC vaccine?

Yes, absolutely. It doesn’t matter how far behind your child is in receiving their shots. The VFC Program will provide your doctor with all the recommended childhood shots to get your child caught up. Call or visit your provider to discuss how your child can be brought back up to schedule. Consult the recommended catch up schedule for details.

  1. My child is healthy.  I'll just wait until school age to get them vaccinated.  

    No. This is highly discouraged. Many of the immunizations children need today, are intended for very young children in their first months of life, because that is when they are most at risk for contracting vaccine-preventable diseases. Thus, waiting for when a child starts school can be very dangerous to your child’s health in their first five years of life. Additionally, the standard of care today for all young children, is that they be examined and evaluated by a doctor for other important purposes besides immunization. Immunization is just one component of your child’s overall well-being. So please take your child for regular and periodic visits as soon as possible.
  1. I have specific questions about the shots my child needs and when to get them.  Where can I get this information?

    The best place to start is with your State (or Territory) VFC Program Coordinator who can answer any questions about vaccines and/or recommendations.

    Additionally, there are many other resource links provided on this website that can be of help, including contacting the CDC Information Contact Center at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636), or emailing your questions to

    Also consult these brochures:
         Brochure: VFC for parents
    Brochure: VFC for healthcare providers

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This page last modified on January 16, 2004


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