DC Health promotes health, wellness and equity, across the District, and protects the safety of residents, visitors and those doing business in our Nation’s Capital. One of many ways this mission is achieved is by protecting against vaccine preventable diseases.
The mission of the DC Health Immunization Program is to reduce Vaccine Preventable Diseases (VPDs) across the lifespan through vaccinations, which means all children and adults. In support of the District’s response to COVID-19 and to mitigate the threat of outbreaks and waning vaccination coverage, DC Health is working with its partners to catch children up with their vaccinations, inform strategies to address pockets of need, and expand public awareness on VPDs and access points.
Why are vaccinations important during a pandemic?
According to the Centers for Disease Control, while families have adhered to recommendations about staying home due to COVID-19, unfortunately, this resulted in missed routine vaccinations for children. In the midst of the pandemic, vaccines are the best protection against vaccine-preventable diseases. The CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that every child continues to receive vaccines during the COVID-19 outbreak. Now that several communities have reopened, this is a great time for you to schedule a well child visit. If your child will be starting or returning to school in August/September, it is even more important to get children vaccinated to avoid community spread of COVID-19, or an outbreak from other vaccine preventable diseases such as measles. We know this is a difficult time and understand you might have more questions than answers. This website provides additional information and helps to address questions that you might have about immunization.
Reasons to vaccinate
Remember, vaccinations are the best way to protect against vaccine preventable diseases. Still not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why you should protect your child by vaccinating.
Getting your child vaccinated
The first step in preventing the spread of disease is to call your child’s health care provider and schedule an appointment for a well child visit and immunizations. Learn as much as you can about immunizations so that you can discuss it with your child’s health care provider.
Accessing care for vaccinations
Children between the ages of 0 through 18 (under 19) are eligible to get vaccines free of charge through the Vaccines For Children (VFC) Program, if they meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Eligible for Medicaid or enrolled in Medicaid
- Underinsured (insurance coverage that does not include vaccines)
- Are American Indian or Alaskan Native
For persons with insurance, the cost of the vaccine and administration are generally covered.
Ensuring safety at the health care provider’s office
- Ask the health care provider or staff about safety protocols they have in place to keep children and parents from contracting the COVID-19.
If your child is due for a well-child visit, call the doctor’s office and ask about ways they safely offer well-child visits during this time. Many medical offices are taking extra steps to make sure that well visits can happen safely during the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- Scheduling sick visits and well-child visits during different times of the day
- Asking patients to remain outside until it’s time for their appointment to reduce the number of people in waiting rooms
- Offering sick visits and well-child visits in different locations
Selecting a health care provider
If your child does not have a health care provider, you can select one from the list of Pediatric Clinic locations, located in every Ward of the city. DC Health has been in contact with each of these providers and they are ready to receive you.
Getting a copy of your child’s immunization record
If you do not have a copy of the record, to obtain a copy of your child’s immunization record, you must complete an Authorization of Release Form. Once you receive a copy of the record, take it along with a copy of your child’s Universal Health Certificate to your child’s wellness visit. You will need to show proof of immunization before your child can return to school or enroll at a license child care facility in DC.
Getting ready for school
While making decisions about where your child will be going to school and what supplies they need, be sure to include a visit to their health care provider in your plans. DC law indicates that no student shall be admitted to school without proof of immunization in accordance with DC school health requirements. Here are the school immunization requirements for the District.
Vaccines By Age
Children require many vaccines which should be given as early as possible. Learn more about which vaccines your child needs and when.
Measles is a highly contagious disease. Learn more about this disease and recommendations to protect you, your child, and community.
Confidence is “the state of feeling certain about the truth of something.” This confidence is usually based on a belief that the object of our confidence is trustworthy. Many parents are confident in the safety and effectiveness of vaccines. However, the spread of myths and misinformation make some parents has put some communities at risk. Build your confidence by learning more about vaccinations, stay informed through this website, and learn of questions to ask of your child’s health care provider. We are working with health care providers to “Vaccinate with Confidence” so they will be ready to address your questions before and during your child’s visit.
Vaccine Schedule Questions
Information about immunization schedules are common. Parents understand that vaccines can protect children from disease, but may have questions about when, how much, and how to understand schedules so they can keep their child up to date. Here are some typical vaccine schedule questions so you will be as informed as possible about vaccine recommendations.
- Vaccine Schedule For Children (Birth to 6 years old)
- Vaccine Schedule For Children (7-18 years old)
Tools and Resources
- DC School Immunization Attendance Policy (FAQs)
- School Immunization Requirements
- Pediatric Clinic Locations
- DC Coronavirus Information
- DC School Health Services Program
- American Academy of Pediatrics
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- CDC Parent Guide to Childhood Immunizations
- Immunization Action Coalition
- ImmunizeDC (Coalition)
- Vaccinate Your Family
DC Health Immunization Program
899 North Capitol Street, NE, 3rd Floor
Washington, DC 20002