Immunization Basics for Children
Immunizations are one of public health’s greatest achievements. Vaccines help prevent diseases and help keep Californians of all ages healthy. Making sure all kids get their routine shots on time gives them a healthy start in life.
About the California Immunization Record
The California Immunization Record (sometimes called the “yellow card”) helps you keep track of what shots your child has received and when. Keep it safe, and keep it up-to-date. Bring it with you when you take your children in for shots. If you can’t find your child’s record card, ask your doctor’s office for a copy. Many California medical offices and clinics can now update your child’s yellow card automatically using an electronic immunization registry.
Where can children get shots?
Doctor’s office, clinic, or hospital. Pediatricians and family doctors or their nurses or medical assistants can give your children the shots they need to keep them healthy and meet the requirements for school enrollment. Hospitals may give babies some shots at birth and can also give tetanus shots to kids and adults at the emergency room if necessary.
Pharmacies. Some large chain pharmacies offer immunizations for older children and adults (but not for infants).
Local health department: If your child doesn’t have a regular doctor, you can go to a community clinic or contact your local health department to learn about where to go for shots.
Learn about the health consequences of not getting immunized.
Are my child’s shots covered?
By law, California managed care organizations (such as Kaiser Permanente and Blue Cross) must cover recommended immunizations for children. Your health plan may charge a copayment for the shot visit. Check with your health plan or your doctor’s office to ask about any fees.
If you don’t have health insurance, you may be able to get free immunizations through one of these programs:
Healthy Families. Children enrolled in California’s Healthy Families plan receive free immunizations with no copayment.
Medi-Cal. Medi-Cal covers preventive care services for eligible low-income children and adults. Contact your local County Social Services for more information.
Vaccines for Children
Many private-practice California doctors participate in the Vaccines for Children (VFC) program, which gives free vaccine to eligible children up to age 18. Ask your child’s doctor if they offer VFC shots.
CHDP. Children eligible for California’s Child Health and Disability Prevention (CHDP) program may also be eligible for free or low-cost shots.