We need immunizations (also called shots or vaccines) throughout our lives to help us stay healthy. Babies and young children need the largest number of immunizations, but older children and teens also need immunizations.
Vaccines are one of the safest and most effective developments of modern medicine. Vaccines are used to prevent many diseases, and it is important for everyone to continue to get all the vaccines they need to make sure our communities are protected from those diseases.
Read more about vaccine safety.
Currently, children should get immunizations to protect them from 14 different diseases: diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), influenza, measles, mumps, rubella, varicella, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rotavirus, and streptococcus pneumoniae.
Teens need immunizations for diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, influenza, human papillomavirus, and meningococcal disease. Teens may also need some other vaccines if they did not get them when they were younger. Learn more about diseases that require immunizations.
The Childhood Immunization Schedule (ages 0-6) and Adolescent Immunization Schedule (ages 7-18) will help you know what vaccines your child needs at different ages. Your doctor will often give your child more than one vaccine during an office visit. This is safe for your child and makes sure he or she is protected from those diseases as early as possible. It also saves you from having to make more doctor's visits than you need.
Children in Philadelphia can visit any PDPH health center to receive immunizations, even without an appointment. The health centers offer a full range of health services in addition to vaccines. You will need to bring proof that you live in Philadelphia (like a driver's license, another photo ID, or a letter from a community agency). If you have health insurance, including Medicare or Medicaid, bring that information too.
The health centers are part of the network of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs). FQHCs must give VFC vaccines to any VFC-eligible children who visit for immunizations. Call 215-685-6872 if your child is VFC eligible but an FQHC will not give your child VFC vaccines for any reason.
Your child may get immunizations for free under a special program called Vaccines for Children (VFC) if he or she under 19 years of age, and:
- Does not have health insurance, or
- Is eligible for the Medicaid program (Medical Assistance), or
- Is American Indian or Alaskan Native
About 300 healthcare providers in Philadelphia are part of the VFC Program. Ask your doctor if he or she participates in VFC. You may also call the Philadelphia VFC Program for more information: 215-685-6498.
The City of Philadelphia has one of the highest childhood vaccine coverage rates in the country. This is another way of saying that parents and doctors do a great job in working together to make sure that children in Philadelphia get the immunizations they need when they need them.