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Updating your child’s immunizations before school starts shouldn’t be a financial worry. Under the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, children 18 years of age and younger, who meet certain criteria, can receive childhood vaccines at no cost. To ensure all kids get the recommended schedule of vaccines, no matter what their economic status, Center for Disease Control purchases vaccines at a reduced cost and distributes them to designated VFC providers.
If you have no insurance coverage or your insurance does not cover vaccines, your child qualifies for VFC. Children are also considered eligible if they are insured by Medicaid, or if they are Native or Alaskan American. The free vaccines are offered at federally qualified health centers or rural health centers.
The Affordable Health Care Act may be another option for immunizing your child at no charge. Families that enroll in new health care plans on or after September 23, 2011, will not be required to pay for their children’s immunizations. Under guidelines developed with the help of the American Academy of Pediatrics, health insurance plans must now cover “evidence-based” preventive services like immunizations. For families newly enrolled in health care plans, this means no co-pay or deductibles as long as they use a network doctor.
Unfortunately, if you already carry health insurance for you and your family, the plan you have may be exempt from this rule. Check with your insurance provider if you are not sure. If you find you have to pay for vaccines, and you are concerned about a high office co-payment or costly deductible, a community clinic may be the answer. Federally funded health care centers charge on a sliding scale based on a patient’s income. Consult http://findahealthcenter.hrsa.gov/Search_HCC.aspx to locate a clinic in your area. Your child’s school nurse may also have a list of clinics.
Reviewed July 12, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Kate Kunkel