Smartphone Apps Track Vaccination Shots for Tots

With Washington State in a pertussis epidemic — a King County baby died of whooping cough mid-December — there’s more interest in vaccinations, especially among new parents. Pertussis comes with a caveat, which is that the newborn are best protected by vaccinated adults, since it takes a series of shots to build immunity.

As new parents quickly learn, managing the series of shots that is a complete vaccination schedule is a daunting task. The CDC offers schedules in “easy-to-read” formats, but if there’s anything that’s suited to a smartphone, it’s this.

Search on “vaccination” in the iTunes app store, and you’ll see a wealth of results, from the American College of Physicians Immunization Advisor (aimed at medical professionals) to all-in-one milestone-guide apps like Baby Sense and Tot Tracker, which include vaccination suggestions. (There are also apps that sort out travel vaccinations for you.)

The Vaccination Scheduler app ($0.99), in contrast, does only that — it helps parents manage their children’s vaccination schedules, in more than 90 countries. Founder David Freuden says the app’s country-specific vaccination schedules are based on data from the World Health Organisation (WHO), cross checked with the U.S.’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The app’s information is updated whenever WHO or the CDC publish new data.

The idea was to make it as easy as possible to see a child’s immunization schedule, and also to be reminded ahead of each visit to the doctor’s office. Last November, it was rated the #1 New Medical App by Apple. On the home screen, you’re prompted to enter your child’s name (it tracks up to six) and date of birth, and it provides you with a suggested schedule. As you complete the immunizations, they transfer into History, so you can call up who’s gotten what shot.

You can tell the app to email you vaccination reports (a PDF) that shows the completed vaccinations (vaccination name, date, your notes) as well as what’s up next. In later days, that record may be one of the most useful things; the primary factor behind the rise of pertussis, for instance, is that kids may need booster shots more quickly than anticipated. Knowing exactly when children got every single one of their shots, years later, can be critical.