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VFC Detailed Questions and Answers for Parents

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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.

Q: Which children are eligible?

A: Children through 18 years of age who meet at least one of the following criteria are eligible to receive VFC vaccine:

  • Medicaid eligible: A child who is eligible for the Medicaid program. (For the purposes of the VFC program, the terms "Medicaid-eligible" and "Medicaid-enrolled" are equivalent and refer to children who have health insurance covered by a state Medicaid program)
  • Uninsured: A child who has no health insurance coverage
  • American Indian or Alaska Native: As defined by the Indian Health Care Improvement Act (25 U.S.C. 1603)
  • Underinsured [1]

Children whose health insurance covers the cost of vaccinations are not eligible for VFC vaccines, even when a claim for the cost of the vaccine and its administration would be denied for payment by the insurance carrier because the plan's deductible had not been met.

What is an FQHC?

An FQHC is a health center that is designated by the Bureau of Primary Health Care (BPHC) of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to provide health care to a medically underserved population. FQHCs include community and migrant health centers, special health facilities such as those for the homeless and persons with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) that receive grants under the Public Health Service (PHS) Act, and "look-alikes," which meet the qualifications but do not actually receive grant funds. They also include health centers within public housing and Indian health centers.

What is an RHC?

An RHC is a clinic located in a Health Professional Shortage Area, a Medically Underserved Area, or a Governor-Designated Shortage Area. RHCs are required to be staffed by physician assistants, nurse practitioners, or certified nurse midwives at least half of the time that the clinic is open.


Footnotes

  1. Underinsured means the child has health insurance, but it
    • Doesn't cover vaccines, or
    • Doesn't cover certain vaccines, or
    • Covers vaccines but has a fixed dollar limit or cap for vaccines. Once that fixed dollar amount is reached, a child is then eligible.

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. To locate an FQHC or RHC, contact the state VFC coordinator.

For additional details, consult the "Which Children are Eligible" section.

Q: Where can I get vaccines?

A: VFC vaccines can be administered by any enrolled VFC Program provider (private doctor, private clinic, hospitals, Public Health Clinic, Community Health Clinic, Schools, etc.).

Most pediatricians (doctors specializing in the treatment of children) in the United States and its Territories are now VFC enrolled providers. Additionally, many family practice providers are enrolled, as well as general practitioners, and many other sub-specialty healthcare providers. In some States, schools are enrolled. Altogether, there are over 44,000 providers enrolled in the VFC Program nationwide.

Your State or Territory Health Department is responsible for managing the VFC Program where you reside. Each State or Territory has a VFC Program Coordinator that is responsible for enrolling providers and monitoring the provider's participation in the program. For help with locating a VFC enrolled provider near your home, please consult the complete list of State/Territory VFC Coordinators and contact your State/Territory VFC Coordinator.

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Q: Do I have to pay anything?

A: If your child meets one of the VFC eligibility criteria listed above, the vaccine must always be provided free of charge.

Free of charge means just that. The vaccines have already been paid for with federal tax dollars. This means that no one can charge a fee for the vaccine itself.

However, each state immunization provider has been granted (by law) the ability to charge what is called an "administrative fee." An administrative fee is similar to a patient's co-pay, in that it helps providers offset their costs of doing business.

The amount of the administrative fee differs from state to state, based on a regional scale determined by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

These regional administrative charges are maximum fees that providers may ask patients to pay. That means that if a state's administrative fee is $15.00, a provider may charge a patient any amount up to, but not exceeding that $15.00 charge, for each vaccine administered. There is no lower limit, so providers have the option to charge what they feel is fair, including no charge at all.

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Q: What vaccines are provided? What diseases are prevented?

A: There are many single and combination vaccines that are licensed in the US and that protect children against 14 preventable diseases. The vaccines available through the VFC are determined by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP). CDC, as the administrator of VFC, purchases and distributes the vaccines. VFC covers any vaccines included in the immunization schedules:

Diseases that are preventable by recommended childhood vaccines recommended by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) include the following. Each disease is briefly described on the 2nd page of the above linked documents.

  • Diphtheria
  • Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib)
  • Hepatitis A
  • Hepatitis B
  • Human Papillomavirus (HPV)
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Meningococcal
  • Mumps
  • Pertussis (whooping cough)
  • Pneumococcal
  • Polio
  • Rotavirus
  • Rubella (German Measles)
  • Tetanus (lockjaw)
  • Varicella (chickenpox)

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Q: What other resources can I check (other useful links)?

A: CDC Vaccines and Immunizations web site
Provides information about vaccines, including precautions and contraindications for immunization, and vaccine-preventable diseases.
Contact CDC-INFO

CDC Information Contact Center
Contact CDC-INFO
1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636)
TTY: 1-888-232-6348

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