Vaccines and Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
Vaccines can prevent many harmful and deadly diseases in infants, children, teens, adults and travelers of all ages. Getting vaccinated is one of the safest and most effective ways for you to protect your health. Over the years, vaccines have saved and improved millions of lives. Thanks to vaccines, we are protected from:
Do your part and make sure you and your family are up-to-date on your vaccinations. When people ensure that their families and communities are protected with vaccines, we are all protected together.
For more information about vaccines and preventable diseases, visit cdc.gov/vaccines.
Where to Get Immunized
Vaccines for Children
Children are best served when they receive vaccines as part of a routine well-child visit from a primary care provider. The Vaccines for Children (VFC) program offers vaccines at no cost to eligible children through health care providers enrolled in the program, including uninsured, underinsured and Medicaid eligible children. To identify a vaccination provider, please visit vfc.illinois.gov/search.
If you’re a health care provider, visit the VFC webpage on the Chicago Health Alert Network (HAN) to access resources and archived VFC News Bulletins.
Vaccines for Adults
Your doctor’s office or primary care clinic is often the best and least expensive place to get vaccinated. Call in advance to check if there’s a cost (all health plans under the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare must offer routinely recommended vaccinations with no co-pay), and to make sure the vaccines you need are in stock. If your doctor’s office does not have the vaccines you need, or you cannot get an appointment in time, check the options below.
Many vaccines are also offered at pharmacies on a walk-in basis. Use the Health Map Vaccine Finder to find a location that offers vaccines.
CDPH Immunization Clinics
The Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) operates three immunization clinics where children and young adults 18 and under can get required and recommended vaccinations and seasonal flu shots at no cost. Some vaccines (MMR and flu) are also available to uninsured or underinsured Chicago residents who are 19 years and older, regardless of ability to pay.
At your appointment, an up-to-date immunization record must also be presented to clinic staff. If you have insurance, please bring your insurance card. Get more information online about the clinics, including locations and hours.
The Chicago CareVan is a mobile immunization clinic that offers services at no out of pocket cost at Head Start, child care centers, schools, public housing sites, WIC centers, and community events. The clinic provides all immunizations that are recommended by the CDC, with the exception of varicella (chickenpox) vaccine.
At your appointment, please bring your child's shot record with you. For the safety of your child it is important for the immunization nurse to know what shots your child has already received and when they were given. To see when the CareVan will be at a location near you, check the CareVan schedule or call 312.746.6181.
If you represent an organization that would like to host a CareVan event, please fill out this event request form. A CDPH representative will get back to you to confirm.
Chicago Flu Shots Locations
Now more than ever, everyone needs to do their part to prevent the spread of respiratory illnesses, like flu and COVID-19. CDPH recommends everyone six months and older receive a yearly flu vaccine as their first, and most important step, in protecting against the flu.
To ensure that every resident can access vaccines regardless of ability to pay, every year CDPH hosts over 80 community events in all 50 wards where Chicago residents can get their flu shot for no out-of-pocket cost. This fall, we are adjusting our flu clinic operations to support increased capacity, allow for appropriate social distancing, and protect both our staff and clients. We plan to host recurring flu clinics at large locations across the City, such as Chicago’s City Colleges, and smaller, one-time clinics in high-risk communities. Learn more at chicago.gov/flu.
Flu shots are also widely available at provider offices, clinics and pharmacies. Use the Chicago Flu Vaccine Finder to find a location in your neighborhood that is currently offering flu vaccines to the public. If you are a senior seeking high-dose flu vaccine, CDPH encourages you to call ahead to verify availability and cost.
How to Locate Immunization Records
If you don’t have a copy of your childhood vaccination records at home, call your healthcare provider or medical clinic where you received a vaccination shot. You can also check with your high school/college or previous employers that may have required immunizations. Former CPS students can request immunization records by submitting an online application. Finally, you can call CDPH Immunization Program directly at 312-746-6129 to submit a request to check the state immunization registry I-CARE.
If you can’t find your personal records or records from the doctor, you may need to get some of the vaccines again. While this is not ideal, it is safe to repeat vaccines. The doctor can also sometimes do blood tests to see if you are immune to certain vaccine-preventable diseases.