Have you ever forgotten to buy milk when you go to the grocery store? How about missing someone’s birthday? Because of the fast-paced world we live in, there are always going to be things that we forget to do. Some of them are more important than others. Bills need to be paid on time or we get fees charged to us. Applications need to be filed on time or we could miss out on an opportunity. Vaccines need to be given on time to offer the best chances of their providing immunity.
Vaccines are given on a recommended schedule because the evidence shows that the proper doses at the proper times generate the optimal immune response. This requires several visits to a healthcare provider during childhood and later in life. If you miss one visit or get off the schedule, you may not be fully protected from certain diseases. Luckily, modern life has also brought with it modern technology. Here are a few methods that you can use to keep track of your family’s immunization records with reminders on when the next scheduled vaccine is recommended to be given.
VaxNation is a free online service that creates a web-based record of your immunizations and keeps them safe and accessible. Social media features are integrated into VaxNation: it provides statistics on vaccine coverage in the user’s area, and the user is then able to share these statistics through social media and educate their peers on the use and necessity of vaccines. Additionally, a tool helps users locate nearby vaccination clinics.
MyVaxines is a free web-based service launching in the near future that will help parents keep track of the vaccine records for the family. It plans to offer a “vaccine transcript” where parents can have access to the child’s vaccination history, including the dates when vaccines were given, the brand and lot number of the vaccines, and where they were administered. By keeping these records online, it is hoped that they will be readily available and “follow” the family from one provider to another if necessary. Also, if the vaccine recommendations change, the schedule and alerts will be updated.
There are plenty of smartphone (iPhone, Android, BlackBerry) that are aimed at reminding you about events. All of them have calendars that can look very far into the future, so it’s not a bad idea to just make an appointment or reminder in your phone’s calendar for that date in the future when you or your child need the next vaccine, even if it’s years in the future. Of course, there are dedicated applications (software programs) that will keep track of your immunization records and remind you when the time comes for the next doctor’s visit. One such app is “Vaccine Reminder,” an Android app. Although it is not strictly for vaccine reminders, “Babymate” is an iPhone app that includes a vaccine reminder and vaccine recordkeeping properties. Other apps are available via search in the respective online stores for your smartphone.
Online and Computer-Based Calendars
If you have an online mail service like Google, Yahoo, or Microsoft Hotmail, a free calendar application is available with their service as well. As with your smartphone, you can create appointments for the future. In addition to this, you can also search your past events to keep track and remind yourself of what vaccines have been given and which ones are due.
Your Provider’s System
With the help of the internet and modern electronic medical records, more healthcare providers are using electronic systems to remind patients of their vaccination due dates. Some of these systems are automated and will message by phone, email, or regular mail the patient to remind them to make an appointment for their next immunization. So ask your provider if they participate in such a program or if one is coming soon to their practice.
State/Local Immunization Registries
Many state and local health departments maintain electronic immunization records as part of their wider mission to protect communities from infectious diseases. These systems collect and integrate data about an individual’s vaccination history from all providers using the system, making record-keeping and coordination of care easier and more efficient. In most cases, however, these registries are not accessible by the individual or parent, though individuals can request and receive copies of their immunization records from the system.
Life today is hectic, and it can be challenging to keep appointments and due dates straight. Some things are easier to track than others. Whatever your strategy for keeping track of what vaccines your family members have received and which ones are coming up, it is important to receive your vaccines on time and in the order you and your healthcare provider have discussed.
“Vaccines: Reminder Systems and Strategies for Increasing Vaccination Rates”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
“ACIP Vaccine Recommendations”, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention