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FOX Medical Team

Online tool helps keep track of kids' vaccinations

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ATLANTA -

Pediatricians' offices and health clinics have been slammed for weeks as thousands of kids try to get caught up on their back-to-school vaccinations.

If you're child falls behind, getting the child back on track can get pretty complicated, but a free, easy-to-use online tool may be able to help.

When Ethan Posey, who is almost 10, came for his back to school checkup with Kaiser Permanente pediatrician Thomas Steimer, Ethan's mom Nadine wasn't sure what vaccinations he needed.
    
"Well, I thought I was up-to-date, but then they came out with this new thing, and it was pretty easy to see that he wasn't," Posey said.

It turned out that Ethan needed six vaccinations just to get caught up. Dr. Steimer says that happens a lot.
   
"You can see with this vaccine schedule, that in the first year of life, the children are coming in at 2, 4, 6, and again at 12 months age for vaccines," said Steimer.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that young children be protected against 14 serious childhood illnesses. Kids often need several doses, given in specific intervals.

"The vaccine schedule, under ideal circumstances is complicated simply because of the number of doses and the number of visits.  But when kids fall behind it adds an extra layer of complexity," Steimer said.

So, how do you do the vaccine math?

A free online catch-up vaccine scheduler created by the Georgia Tech Research Institute and the CDC can help.

The site -- located at https://www.vacscheduler.org/ -- is designed to be easy. Parents or caregivers enter a child's birth date and then plug in as much information as they have about the child's vaccine history, using the school vaccine form known as a 3231.
 
"They just put in the dates from the 3231 form, they hit the button, and they get a schedule with color indications and dates to help them just take it with them to the doctor's office," Georgia Tech research scientist Sheila Isbell.

This online catch-up tool is currently only available for children six and younger, but there's a downloadable tool for older kids and teens, and adults who want to stay up on their vaccinations.

It gives you a color-coded chart of the vaccines your child has already had, what catch-up doses are needed and what to plan for down the road. You can print it out and take it to the pediatrician.

"It also helps me, as a parent, to talk to the doctor if I have any concerns. So, it kind of saves me time, because we don't have a lot of time in the doctor's office," Isbell said.

If you're a parent, you can stick the vaccine scheduler on the fridge or take it to your pediatrician.

LINKS:

The link for the online "Catch-up" Vaccine Scheduler for children age 6 and younger is:

www.vacscheduler.org

The Desktop Immunization Scheduler for ages 7-18:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/Schedulers/adolescent-scheduler.html

Desktop Immunization Scheduler for Adults 18 and up:

http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/Schedulers/adult-scheduler.html

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