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New program helps parents keep track of immunization records

It’s a small, unassuming booklet but losing your child’s immunization record can have grave consequences for the health of your family. 

But a paper record can be challenging to keep track of, especially through frequent moves. 

Realizing the difficulty parents can face in keeping their families’ immunization records safe and undamaged, the Ottawa Hospital has been working on a program called CANImmunize for the last seven years that assists parents in keeping track of their children’s immunizations.

“It’s a free, really easy to use tool that will help you keep track of this information for your family and make it one less thing to worry about,” said Katherine Atkinson, lead of operations for CANImmunize. 

CANImmunize is a digital immunization record tracker that can be accessed securely through all devices and allows users to store immunization information for the entire family in one place. 

After creating an account, users can simply create individual records and based on a child’s date of birth and residence, parents will receive a custom schedule of the vaccinations a child needs and when. The program will also send reminders and contains evidence-based information on each vaccination on a seventh-grade reading level for everyone to understand the importance of the various vaccines they are receiving. 

Because Canada still uses a paper-based system and because different provinces administer vaccinations at different times and through different organizations, sometimes vaccines are administered through family doctors sometimes through public health, a simple way for families to keep track of this information themselves was a must. 

“You’re getting immunizations from so many different people that you’re really in charge of this information yourself. So, the tool definitely helps you remain organized and keep everything somewhere you can’t lose and doesn’t get wet in the bottom of a purse or backpack, or get damaged,” added Atkinson. 

The program is especially handy with several vaccine-preventable diseases making rounds again across the country. 

“This is just something you can use to make sure your family is up-to-date and protected against these diseases, and it’s not something else you need to worry about when you already have so much on your mind,” commented Atkinson. 

In Ottawa, families can even use the app to directly report their children’s immunizations to Ottawa Public Health once the children are enrolled n school. 

CANImmunize was developed by Dr. Kumanan Wilson and his team at the Ottawa Hospital after the internal medicine physician had a conversation with a mother at the playground years ago. 

“She said she was so frustrated she could do so much on her phone. She could do her banking, her shopping and a lot of the information she was asked to provide was digital. But she was still being asked for that yellow piece of paper with her kids’ vaccines on it. And she asked can you not put this on a phone?” explained Atkinson. 

It was developed piece by piece over the last several years, adding new components based on user feedback and winning multiple awards along the way.

It was recently cited by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control as a model for consumers facing immunization solutions.

Today, more than 250,000 Canadians are on the app. 

Atkinson says the team is keen to work with military families and hear their feedback as they face multiple moves across different provinces. 

“They’re doing so much for our country, and we would love to help with making a small piece of their lives better,” said Atkinson. 

Atkinson and the team will continue to develop the app by working with clinicians and public health organizations across the country to perhaps change the way Canada keeps track of their immunizations for good. 

Visit their website to sign up today.

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MIshall Rehman

Originally from Atlanta, GA, Mishall is a freelance journalist pursuing her passion for writing in her new homeland Canada. She currently lives in Trenton, ON with her husband.

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