SATURDAY, June 14, 2008 (HealthDay News) -- A new computerized program that helps parents and pediatricians adjust childhood immunization schedules when one or more vaccinations are missed has been developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
It's common for children to miss getting vaccines at the recommended time. About 28 percent of toddlers haven't been vaccinated according to U.S. guidelines, said a report issued recently by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only 9 percent of children received all their vaccinations at the recommended times, and only half received all the recommended doses by their second birthday, according to another recent survey.
When a child falls behind in the vaccination schedule, doctors must determine when it's appropriate to give any missed vaccines or future vaccines. This typically requires the creation of a personalized catch-up schedule for each child, something that's often done while the child sits in the treatment room.
The new software program is designed to ensure that missed and future vaccines are given without violating guidelines regarding vaccines and doses.
"Physicians have been telling us for years that they needed a computerized program to tell them when to give vaccines after a child misses scheduled immunizations. Now this tool is available for health care professionals and parents to use, and they are excited to use it," Larry Pickering, executive director of the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and a collaborator on the project, said in a prepared statement.
When using the program, a doctor or parent inputs a child's date of birth and previous immunization dates. The program then creates a personalized schedule of the recommended dates to administer all future vaccines. It offers two options -- administer the vaccines as soon as possible or administer the vaccines when recommended.
"Sometimes a physician sees a child that he or she knows will not return for all follow-up visits. In this case, the tool provides the physician flexibility in administering as many vaccines as possible when the child is in the office rather than waiting," Pickering said.
The software program can be downloaded from the CDC Web site at www.cdc.gov/vaccines/scheduler/catchup.htm.
The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about childhood vaccines.