West Virginia offers free vaccines for temporarily uninsured children

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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WHSV) — As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and many people remain without employment due to its effects, many have lost health insurance that was provided through their employers as well.

Due to the situation, the Bureau for Public Health of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) is reminding parents that they offer free vaccines for eligible children from birth through the age of 18.

The offer is provided through their Vaccines for Children (VFC) program for any and all uninsured and other eligible children.

Vaccines are offered at more than 420 provider sites across the state that participate in the program.

“Maintaining regular preventive care is extremely important, particularly during childhood,” said Dr. Cathy Slemp, State Health Officer and Commissioner of DHHR’s Bureau for Public Health. “We know vaccination is one of the best ways parents can protect children from 16 potentially harmful diseases. The Vaccines for Children program helps ensure West Virginia’s children will not miss vaccinations due to loss of insurance coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Eligibility requirements for the VFC program include the below:

• Medicaid-eligible
• Uninsured
• American Indian or Alaskan Native
• Underinsured (children with insurance which does not cover vaccines)

“If children fall behind on vaccinations during the pandemic, we could face a second crisis with an outbreak of vaccine-preventable disease,” added Dr. Slemp. “I urge parents and guardians to contact their child’s medical provider to stay on schedule with recommended vaccinations.”

To learn more about the VFC program, click here or call DHHR’s Office of Epidemiology and Preventive Services hotline, 1-800-642-3634.