History of the Vaccines for Children Program
In 1989 - 1991, a measles epidemic in the United States resulted in tens of thousands of cases of measles and hundreds of deaths. Upon investigation, CDC found that more than half of the children who had measles had not been immunized, even though many of them had seen a health care provider. In partial response to that epidemic, Congress passed the Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (OBRA) on August 10, 1993, creating the Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program. VFC became operational October 1, 1994.
Known as section 1928 of the Social Security Act, the Vaccines for Children program is an entitlement program (a right granted by law) for eligible children, age 18 and below. VFC helps families of children who may not otherwise have access to vaccines by providing free vaccines to doctors who serve them. VFC is administered at the national level by the CDC through the National Immunization Program. CDC contracts with vaccine manufacturers to buy vaccines at reduced rates. States and eligible projects enroll physicians who serve eligible patients up to and including age 18 years to provide routine immunizations with little to no out-of-pocket costs to the parents. There are two federal VFC programs administered in Illinois: Chicago VFC-Plus (for providers in the City of Chicago) and Illinois VFC-Plus (for providers outside the City of Chicago). Check out our VFC Illinois and VFC Chicago page for further information.
The Vaccines for Children program is a federally funded, state administered program that provides free vaccines to eligible children ages 18 and younger. Vaccines are provided free at no cost to the provider or the patient, although providers may charge an administration fee. Eligible children include the following:
- Children who have or are eligible for All Kids/Medicaid
- Children with no health insurance
- American Indian or Alaska Native children
- Children who are underinsured**
- Underinsured children are defined as those children who have private health insurance which does not include coverage of vaccines. A child whose health insurance covers only select vaccines or caps the vaccine cost at a certain limit is categorized as underinsured.
- Underinsured children in Illinois can only receive VFC vaccines through a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC), a Rural Health Clinic (RHC) or a local health department (LHD).
- Privately insured patients are NOT eligible to receive VFC vaccine and must only be vaccinated with privately acquired vaccines.
Effective October 1, 2016, the VFC program will no longer provide vaccines for children who have All Kids insurance, the state's Child Health Insurance Program (CHIP) coverage (referred to as Title XXI  or "State Funded"). Participants through age 18 with Medicaid coverage (referred to as Title XIX ) are VFC eligible and may continue to receive vaccines through the VFC program.
HFS will issue a provider notice that contains detailed billing and process information in the near future. The VFC program and HFS will offer two webinars in September to review the changes and provide detailed billing and process information.
Non-Institutional Providers (NIP)
MEDI Registration Screen
Determining if your patient is eligible to receive VFC vaccine
It is the responsibility of providers to screen patients to ensure that fully insured patients do not receive Federally-supplied VFC vaccine. (Providers should encourage patients to review insurance benefits when scheduling, have staff check benefits, etc.) If a patient arrives for an appointment and is still unsure of vaccine coverage, vaccination should be deferred until the insurance coverage question(s) can be answered. Use this decision tree to help you determine if the patient is eligible to receive VFC vaccine or not.
Additional information about the national VFC program can be found online at CDC VFC Program page or on this FAQ Page from CDC.
For more information about VFC Illinois (outside of Chicago), please contact:
Linda Kasebier, M.P.H., M.S.H.S.
Vaccine For Children Administrator
Illinois Department of Public Health
525 W. Jefferson Street
Springfield, Illinois 62761
For more information about VFC Chicago, please contact:
Marcia Levin, MPH
Vaccine For Children Program Manager
Chicago Department of Public Health
2160 W Ogden Avenue
Chicago, Illinois 60612
The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) has developed a means to share immunization records in effort to increase immunization coverage of our state's two-year olds to 90%. To maximize effectiveness and encourage state-wide participation, ICAAP offers registry training at no charge to health care providers. I-CARE benefits more than 3,000 medical practices, and local and state health departments. There are over 5.5 million shot records in the I-CARE registry and new users joining every day. Implementing this system is free, easy, and will benefit your patients and your bottom line.
Click here to access 2014 I-CARE Webinar on EMR interfacing.
I-CARE Ordering Module
Vaccines For Children (VFC) providers are now required to use I-CARE to order their vaccines for both the city of Chicago as well as outside the city of Chicago.If there are any additional VFC-Illinois providers or staff that hasn't already applied for access to the I-CARE system, please do so immediately. Questions about the ordering module or I-CARE should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Keep Immunization Records Up-to-Date: I-CARE can forecast immunization due dates based on the recommended schedule, and provide a complete immunization record for patients. With a simple glance at a patients record, you can easily determine what shots the child will need.
- Improve your Immunization Rates: I-CARE issues coverage-level reports for your practice, and automatically generates reminder letters and mailing labels to notify parents. Use these tools to boost your immunization coverage rates.
- Stay Informed: Automatically receive messages about new immunization protocols and recommendations as soon as they are available. Click through a provided list of links to other immunization sites for current news and updates.
- Link to Your Electronic Medical Record System: In an effort to allow EMRs to exchange data between other systems such as I-CARE, a standard was implemented to exchange data between incompatible systems. This international standard for exchanging health data is called Health Level Seven (HL7). Illinois Department of Public Health is implementing the HL7 exchange in two phases.
- Phase 1: a one-way data transfer of unsolicited vaccine record updates to the statewide registry that will allow immunization providers using their own EMR system to send data to I-CARE
- Phase 2: a two-way data transfer of vaccine record queries and responses that will allow immunization providers using their own EMR system to query I-CARE for a patients immunization records (not found in their own EMR system) and I-CARE will send the patient's immunization information back. (Phase 2 to be completed in summer 2012)[…more]
I-CARE is an Opt-Out Registry
As of July 1, 2011, I-CARE switched from an opt-in to an opt-out registry. ICAAP in conjunction with the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians and the Chicago Area Immunization Campaign/Illinois Maternal Child Health Coalition worked with state representatives to draft language and provide support for House Bill 1338 which led to establishing I-CARE as an "opt-out" registry from the previous "opt-in" system. The previous opt-in system posed an administrative burden to healthcare providers and required providers to track down patients in order to obtain a signed consent form prior to the immunization record being entered in I-CARE [...more]
Data loggers are required for all Illinois VFC providers starting on 1/1/2017; each storage unit storing VFC vaccines must be monitored by a data logger; CDC-required back-up thermometers must also be data loggers. The "Data Logger Information" document provides a sample listing of a few data loggers for informational purposes only. Neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nor Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Vaccines for Children (VFC) program will endorse a particular brand. Please contact the data logger vendors for current pricing and availability. Read the following document for more information on Data Loggers.
I-CARE Training Videos
IDPH has made several I-CARE training videos available for healthcare providers. The following I-CARE videos** provide an overview of the registry and how to begin implementing the system in your office. Users are encouraged to view these videos to learn more about I-CARE- including how to maximize resources, organize information, and streamline record keeping and sharing in efficient ways. These are just some of the I-CARE videos available to I-CARE subscribers.**The most recent videos can be found on the I-CARE Main Page under "New Users Start Here."
For more information on I-CARE, please contact:
ICARE - DPH.ICARE@illinois.gov
All questions regarding ICARE (logging in, new employees, and new clinics)
VFC - DPH.Vaccines@illinois.gov
All questions regarding VFC (orders, waste, and inventory issues)
HL7 - DPH.HL7ICARE@illinois.gov
Sign Up for HL7
5 Steps to Register to Interface Electronic Health Record (HER) to the I-CARE Registry Info Page
Step 1: Learn and understand IDPHs interface process.
Download the HL7 Procedures Guide
Step 2: Contact your EHR vendor and ask them if your HER system is HL7 compatible. Tell them you are interested in interfacing your HER to the Illinois State Immunization registry, I-CARE. IDPH accepts both uni-directional (FTPS) and bi-directional (web services) data transfers. Also, provide your vendor with the I-CARE HL7 Procedures Guide.
Download Data Exchange Specifications
Step 3: Sign and return the I-CARE User Agreement to IDPH. Fax it to 2017-524-0967, Attention, I-CARE.
Download I-CARE User Agreement
Step 4: Once you've submitted the User Agreement, you will need to request for a Secure File Transfer Protocol (SFTP) or web services username and password. Once you receive your login you may begin sending data.
Step 5: Contact the appropriate IDPH staff member to receive assistance.
Questions regarding the I-CARE User Agreement you may contact I-CARE Registration at 217-785-1455 or email: email@example.com. If you have questions regarding the HL7 data exchange process contact Robin Holding, I-CARE Project Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have technical questions regarding HL7 contact Igor Slobodyanyuk, HL7 Development Support at email@example.com.
Parental Measles Resources
A quick read on Measles disease and vaccine. Learn when your child should get vaccinated and how many times.
Does your insurance cover the measles vaccine? If you do not have insurance, learn about your options.
Live in Chicago? Find a clinic near you providing Measles vaccine.
Learn about common Measles symptoms and what to do if your child shows these signs/symptoms.
Quick factsheet on MMR, risks, and preventative measures for your child.
Detailed answers to frequently asked questions regarding Measles and MMR.
The sheet below provides reliable and parent-friendly resources to visit and review.
Provider Measles Resources
Quick background on the measles disease, symptoms, and treatment.
Stay up to date on reported Measles cases. (Updated every Monday)
Review vaccine recommendations from the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices for Measles according to age.
Guidance on how to talk with parents about vaccines and giving recommendations.
Measles chapter from CDC's Health Information for International Travel 2008 (Prevention of Specific Infectious Diseases.) Describes the occurrence, risk for travelers, clinical presentation, prevention, and treatment of measles.
Prepare answers for frequently asked questions about measles and vaccines.
This module is the seventh in a series titled Immunization: You Call the Shots and focuses on Measles, Mumps, Rubella and their related vaccines. The series is designed to provide key immunization knowledge in a very basic step-by-step manner. It presents practice-oriented content about immunization.
Print free flyers and banners to be posted in your clinics for parents to read, be informed, and reminded.
Find translated resources in Spanish.
The Illinois Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics (ICAAP) has a weekly email updates, twice yearly newsletter, and social media platforms.
Receive weekly news and information on important immunization developments from the Immunization Action Coalition.
Every Child By Two's Daily Clips, email firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up.
Access immunization training and resources from EZIZ California Department of Public Health.
Access news briefs regarding immunizations from the National Network for Immunization Information.
Learn more about Kid's Health & Wellness, Fetal Diagnosis & Treatment, Vaccine Education Center for parents, CHOP news & events, and more by signing up for the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) newsletters.
Learn about current issues, effective communication strategies and the importance of utilizing new media technologies to convey immunization messages by registering for Virtual Immunization Communication Network's (VICNetwork) updates.