Vaccination Apps

by Mary Gallagher, RN, MSN, CCRN

Dec 1, 2016
December 2016

Looking for an easy, portable way to track vaccinations for you and your family? There’s an app for that. In fact, many apps are available which provide information and help schedule and document your vaccinations.

Immunization prevents an estimated 2–3 million deaths worldwide every year, yet one in five children still miss getting vaccinated. In 2013 a number of European countries experienced large measles outbreaks, primarily due to failure to vaccinate susceptible populations. The region had targeted measles for elimination by 2015.

As more and more people, including busy parents and travelers, take advantage of the user-friendly convenience of smartphones, their appetite for apps grows daily. Naturally, many health authorities recognize this as a huge opportunity. Hence the emergence of vaccine apps.

Organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization decided an app would provide the ideal way to help parents keep track of when their children are due for immunizations. However, the WHO also knew many countries would find it difficult, if not impossible, to create such an app from scratch because of lack of funds or technical expertise. This was clearly a project the WHO could finance.

In 2013 the WHO searched for the right people to develop the code for a smartphone immunization reminder app to be made freely available to health authorities. Once the initial complex coding was completed, countries could customize it to create an app to meet their particular needs. The WHO vaccination app was implemented in April 2014 during World Vaccination Week, first offered to Estonia, Hungary and Romania.

This free app contains information on vaccines, the diseases they prevent and the immunization schedule of the country where it will be made available. Parents who download the app can enter the names and dates of birth of their children and receive a reminder on their phone each time a new immunization is due, even offering the option of dialing the doctor’s number with one click.

The CDC vaccination app became available in 2014, making it easy to learn about and stay current with many vaccines. The centers developed the CDC Vaccine Schedules app, available for iOS and Android, using the Advisory Committee on Immunization’s recommended child, adolescent and adult immunization schedules. Apart from the regular schedule it also contains catch-up schedules for children 4 months through 18 years of age, vaccine contraindications and precautions. The free CDC app contains accessible, detailed information in an easy-to-read and well-organized form. A favorite feature is the ability to look up recommended adult vaccines based on conditions such as pregnancy, diabetes and HIV. It includes automatic updates as well as links to the CDC website, which requires an internet connection.

The American College of Obstetrics & Gynecology’s app for the iPhone and iPad connects users to reliable information from the leading experts in women’s health care. This app features an immunization applet designed for both patients and providers. Users can read about various vaccines and discover whether or not they may need vaccines based on their age, conditions and special circumstances. Information specific to immunization and pregnancy, frequently asked questions, alerts on immunization updates, regulations and a list of resources are also included.

The Healthy Children app from the American Academy of Pediatrics can be downloaded at iTunes and Google Play. Parents can look up health information for their children by age, check immunization schedules and access first aid information and other resources on their smartphones and tablets.

The CDC’s easy-to-use TravWell app helps you plan for safe and healthy international travel. Build a trip in the app to get destination-specific vaccine recommendations, a checklist for travel and a customizable healthy travel packing list. Users can also store travel documents, keep a record of medications and immunizations, and set reminders to get vaccine booster doses or take medicines while traveling. Features include trustworthy recommendations, travel features available offline and emergency services phone numbers for every destination.

The Vaccine Education Center of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia offers Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know, a free app for iPhones. In addition to information about vaccines, the diseases they prevent and common vaccine safety concerns, the app features games; links to videos, fact sheets and brochures; places for saving notes for the next doctor visit; and an easy way to email the Vaccine Education Center with vaccine-related questions.

Other vaccination apps include myFamily App, ReadyVax from Emory University, Red Book App from the American Academy of Pediatrics, Shots Immunizations App from the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine and the THRIVE App from the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Find links for these apps and more on the Immunization Action Coalition website.

The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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