Vaccines for Children program offers free immunizations

Lost your job or coverage? Your kids can still get their shots on schedule

A boy just had his vaccination, and is showing me the position on the arm.

During the pandemic, it is an unfortunate reality that some parents have lost jobs, health insurance, and confidence in the safety of seeking care in person.

None of these issues changes the importance of immunizations, however. To that end, the Vaccines for Children program offers a safe and free alternative for qualifying families.

“Families and children who were privately insured previously may not know this program is available,” said Andrea Polkinghorn, Sanford Health immunization strategy leader. “Children stand to benefit who might be uninsured now because parents lost their jobs during the pandemic.”

The program aids children in getting recommended vaccinations. It is available through Sanford Health family medicine and pediatric clinics.

Who qualifies for Vaccines for Children

As outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, children who are 18 years old or younger and meet at least one of the following criteria are eligible:

  • A child who is eligible for or enrolled in the Medicaid program
  • A child who is enrolled in a Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) that is part of an expanded Medicaid program
  • A child with no health insurance coverage
  • A child who is of American Indian or Alaska Native descent
  • A child who has private health insurance but coverage does not include vaccines or does not cover vaccines otherwise covered by VFC or whose insurance caps vaccine coverage at a certain amount

Children are not eligible for VFC vaccines if their health insurance covers the cost of vaccinations.

“The VFC program is federally funded and includes all the routinely recommended vaccines to each state,” Polkinghorn said. “So every vaccine that is recommended — even those outside of school requirements — is available through the VFC program.”

Catching up

There are more than 44,000 providers enrolled in the Vaccines for Children program nationwide. Locally, Polkinghorn recommends contacting a nearby Sanford Health family or pediatric clinic regarding vaccinations.

Find participating providers:

July and August are normally busy months for vaccines because school is coming up. However, pandemic concerns lowered normal vaccination rates nationally and within the Midwest this year in comparison to last year.

“We saw a steep decline in the number of vaccines being administered, as well as ordering patterns in comparison to last year,” Polkinghorn said. “But they’re slowly coming back, which is great.”

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Posted In Back to School, Children's, Immunizations

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