Tips for Tracking Your Child's Vaccination Schedule
Polio and diphtheria are rare thanks to vaccinations. Most experts agree that vaccinations are necessary to protect our children for generations to come. With the exception of smallpox (the only human infectious disease certified as eradicated by the World Health Organization), the potential for an outbreak still exists with most diseases; thus, it is important to keep children's vaccinations up-to-date. The more children who go unvaccinated or experience a delay in vaccination, the greater the risk to the population, as a whole.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed a recommended vaccination schedule for all groups: http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/spec-grps/default.htm. It is especially important to maintain the schedule for children given that children's immune systems are not well-developed. The schedule is crucial to helping a child remain properly vaccinated against disease. Many parents struggle to keep their children on schedule, however. Parents easily lose track of their child's vaccination from family moves, a change in doctor, or general paperwork disarray. Not only is it important to keep a close eye on a child's vaccination records for health reasons, but these records are required for entrance to school for school-aged children in most states. Some parents depend on their school and physician to maintain their child's records, but this is an imperfect system, too. "In our country, we think the doctor should have all the medical records," said Dr. James McElligott, a pediatrician at the Medical University of South Carolina who worked on recent study evaluating the effectiveness of short cards in relation to vaccination rates. "I like the idea of putting the ownership back in Mom's hands and empowering her a little bit."
Strategies for Managing Shot Schedules
- Shot Cards: Many physicians supply shot cards for parents to keep and track their child's vaccination schedule. McElligott's research confirmed that 84% of children who had parents closely monitoring their child's vaccination schedule with a shot card were up-to-date, whereas only 79% of children without a card had all their shots. Thus, shot cards can be a effective reminder, but like all documents, they must be saved and organized in a careful manner.
- Online Reminder Services: Many tech-savvy parents are turning to online websites to help track, organize, and remind themselves of upcoming vaccinations. For instance, Health Shots Reminder - www.healthshotsreminder.com - allows parents to track their child's vaccination schedule (parents can also track their pet's vaccination schedule here, too). This service also has PDF forms to download so parents can write down the dates of all the vaccinations their children have had. This service costs $12.99 a year and 15% goes to charities to help children and pets. Registration takes only a couple of minutes.
- SmartPhone Applications: There are a number of applications for the iPhone designed to help parents manage their child's vaccine records. Child Vaccinations costs $0.99 and provides an easy, on-the-spot visual of your child's current vaccinations for parents. Child Docs costs $4.99 and includes vaccination information, as well as overall growth data for your child.
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