Free or Low Cost Vaccines
My child does not have insurance. How can I get him or her vaccinated?
No child should miss out on the benefits of vaccination due to lack of insurance or a parent’s inability to pay. Vaccines for Children (VFC) is a federally-funded nationwide program that provides free vaccines to doctors and clinics that serve low-income or uninsured children. To be eligible for the program, your child must be less than 19 years old, and must be Medicaid eligible, uninsured, underinsured, Native American or Alaskan native. If your child meets one or more of these criteria, you can get his or her vaccines from any VFC program-enrolled doctor or clinic at no cost.
Where are can I find a VFC immunization provider?
Federally Qualified Community Health Centers
Federally Qualified Community Health Centers (FQCHC) are federally designated clinics that provide complete primary care services regardless of a family’s ability to pay. All community health centers offer VFC vaccine to eligible children. To find a Community Health Center near you, visit the Colorado Community Health Network at www.cchn.org.
Local Public Health Agencies (LPHA)
Local public health agencies (LPHA) are located in every county in Colorado and offer free vaccines to VFC-eligible children. If your child is considered underinsured (e.g., is covered by a high co-pay and/or high deductible insurance plan that does not cover immunizations) he or she can also receive vaccines at an LPHA. If your child is insured through a private health insurance plan that does include coverage for immunization, he or she can get vaccinated at an LPHA, but your insurance will be billed and you will be responsible for paying any co-pays or deductibles that your plan requires. To locate your closest LPHA, visit the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment website.
School-Based Health Centers
School-Based Health Centers are clinics that offer complete preventive services in a school setting. Many school-based health centers offer VFC vaccine to eligible students. There are 53 school-based health centers in Colorado. To find out more about school-based health centers, visit www.casbhc.org.
Community-Funded Safety Net Clinics and Rural Health Clinics
Community-Funded Safety Net Clinics are independent non-profit clinics that do not refuse patients based on their ability to pay. There are approximately 45 Community-Funded Safety Net Clinics in Colorado, including mobile clinics that travel to many sites across the state. Rural Health Clinics are federally designated and located in non-urban healthcare professional shortage areas. Both types of clinics may offer VFC vaccines. To learn more about these types of clinics and where they are located, please visit http://www.clinicnet.org.
Private Practice Doctors’ Offices
Many Colorado pediatricians and family doctors in private practices offer free VFC vaccines to eligible children. However, immunization providers may charge a set (or standard) fee to administer each shot, but the fee must be waived if you are unable to pay. There can be a fee for the office visit as well. If you are looking for a private practice doctor’s office to give your child’s immunizations, ask if they offer VFC vaccine and what additional fees may be charged.
Shots for Tots and Teens
Shots for Tots and Teens offers free and low-cost Saturday immunization clinics throughout the year in Aurora and Denver with the help of experienced immunization nurses, fire medics, health care and community volunteers. All immunizations are available for children ages 0 to 18 years. No appointments are necessary. Medicaid is accepted and low-cost immunizations are available for uninsured families. Each clinic also offers fun activities and prizes for kids, including fire engine and ambulance tours. For more information and to view upcoming clinic dates, visit www.shotsfortotsandteens.org.
Changes in Health Insurance
The Affordable Care Act – the federal health care reform law—is making prevention affordable and accessible for all Americans by requiring health plans to cover preventive services, including immunizations, and by eliminating cost sharing. According to regulations, for an individual or family that enrolls in a new health plan on or after September 23, 2010, the plan will be required to cover recommended preventive services without charging a deductible, copayment or coinsurance.
Underinsurance means that your child may be covered by an insurance plan that does not include any vaccines, does not cover specific vaccines or caps vaccine coverage at a certain amount. If your child is underinsured, he or she is eligible to get publicly-funded vaccines but only at Federally Qualified Health Centers, Rural Health Centers or Local Public Health Agencies.