Measles: Low-cost, free options to help vaccinate under-insured children

With the growing measles outbreak, the focus has turned to making sure kids' immunizations are up to date. For families who are under-insured, it's a huge concern. But there are low-cost and free options that can help.

One local program is reaching out to vulnerable communities at a crucial time.

Adrian Hernandez just got his first measles, mumps and rubella vaccine. It's an immunization the 4-year-old should have received three years ago

"We see kids that are behind on their immunizations every day," said Antoinette Barrett, a nurse practitioner with Cedars-Sinai's Coach for Kids.

Southern California measles outbreak: Doctors answer your questions

Lately, Barrett and her staff have been seeing a lot of parents expressing concern about the measles.

"People are coming to us wanting to know if their kids are up to date, if they've had the measles vaccine, if they're safe," she said. "A lot of parents with infants are concerned."

Many children are under vaccinated because their families fall in and out of insurance coverage. And their parents don't know where to turn.

MORE: Are you confident in your measles immunity?

"It's hard to get insurance or sometimes it takes a long time," said Adrian's mother, Mayra Hernandez.

Since the last measles outbreak in 2014, public health officials have been racing to vaccinate children in vulnerable communities such as Southgate. In 2016, California became one of three states that does not allow personal or religious belief exemptions, but children not old enough to enroll in school are still falling through the cracks.

"We are seeing the younger kids, the infants that don't have to go to school yet, that don't have to meet the requirement. And we actually are having kids coming to us in order to get into school to meet that requirement," Barrett said.

MORE: Measles outbreak in Southern California - Everything you need to know

Barret said being under or uninsured isn't a reason for skipping vaccines.

Coach for Kids provides all of its clinical services and pediatric immunizations for free. The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health also offers free and low-cost vaccinations.

"I'm really happy they're here to help anyone who has the same problems as me and help everybody with their kids," Hernandez said,.

Adrian and his younger brother are now completely up to date and protected for life.

MORE: How can you tell if you're protected against the measles?
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