Online tool creates immunization schedules for missed childhood vaccinations

Researchers with the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are working on an online tool that gives parents and healthcare providers a schedule for missed childhood vaccinations.

The online tool creates a personalized catch-up schedule for each child, ensuring that the vaccines are administered according to approved guidelines. Since its launch in January, the site has recorded close to 63,000 visits.

"The immunization schedule is complex," Larry Pickering, a collaborator on the project, said. "By using the online immunization scheduler, parents can ensure that their children stay current on all recommended vaccines, and they can also obtain useful information about vaccines and vaccine-preventable diseases."

The tool replaced a downloadable software program created by the scientists in 2008. In the new version, the team resolved issues related to vaccination rule updates and download security restrictions.

"I have found the online scheduling tools to be very user friendly and helpful," Thomas J. Steiner, the pediatric lead physician with Kaiser Permanente Gwinnett in Duluth, Ga., said. "One of the most useful aspects is the fact that after the patient's immunizations are entered, you can print a 'catch up' schedule which can be given to the patient and scanned into the patient's chart."

The scheduler includes vaccinations required between birth to six years of age such as hepatitis A and B, rotavirus, varicella, polio, pneumococcus, Haemophilus influenza type b, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, measles, mumps and rubella. The system follows guidelines developed and revised by the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices.

"By using the scheduler, parents will enhance their knowledge of vaccines and the diseases they prevent, and receive assistance in formulating questions that can be discussed with their child's physicians and nurses, resulting in more productive interactions," Pickering said.

The research team plans to develop a version of the program to combine child and adolescent schedules to serve people through the age of 18.