Healthcare professionals who recommend or administer vaccines need to ensure that their patients are up to date on their vaccinations.
This can be tricky because there are many age groups and each group has their own specific vaccine recommendations and schedules.
Using a comprehensive guide on vaccines and immunizations is, therefore, obligatory for physicians, residents, nursing staff, and all other providers who recommend or administer vaccines to their patients.
One of the best known authoritative resources is "The Vaccine Handbook", also known as the Purple Book, written by Dr. Gary Marshall, professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Louisville, which was first published in 2004 and it's now in its sixth edition.
The book provides practical advice and background on vaccine program infrastructure, standards and regulations, general recommendations, schedules, and more. It addresses the concerns of parents and patients and also includes specific information about vaccine-preventable diseases.
The Purple Book is also available as a free mobile app as of 2016, which was updated in April 2017 to contain the latest, 6th edition of the book.
Basically, The Vaccine Handbook app contains the entire textbook from Dr. Marshall that was turned into a mobile user-friendly guide to immunizations, providing the full content along with tables and charts from the book, and links to many vaccination resources.
Just like the textbook, the app provides thorough information on every licensed vaccine in the United States, the rationale behind vaccine recommendations, advice on how to address concerns about vaccines, standards and regulations, and much more.
Upon opening, The Vaccine Handbook app requires users to register an account and provide their professional information, including their primary specialty (from administrative to family medicine to rheumatology) and title (medical doctor, clinical pharmacist, nursing assistant, and more).
The homepage consists of four main sections, including Basic Vaccinology and Infrastructure, Vaccine Practice, Addressing Concerns About Vaccines, and Disease and Vaccines.
Basic Vaccinology and Infrastructure comprises of three topics including Introduction to Vaccinology, Vaccine Infrastructure in the United States, and Standards, Principles and Regulations.
Vaccine Practice covers topics such as Vaccine Practice, General Recommendations, Vaccination in Special Circumstances, and Routine Schedules.
Addressing Concerns About Vaccines section deals with important topics about concerns and question that parents and patients may have about the vaccines, and particularly important the topics about vaccine refusal and antivaccinationism movement.
Finally, Diseases and Vaccines section list all vaccines licensed in the United States along with each vaccine-preventable disease, including the pathogen, clinical features, epidemiology and transmission, immunization program, vaccines, efficacy, safety, recommendations, and more.
Each of the topics in all four sections comprises of chapters and sub-chapters, which cover every aspect of vaccines and immunizations. Basically, the mobile app looks like a book, except for the navigation that is adjusted for better viewing and easier navigation on mobile devices.
The content in the app is expansive and comprehensive, however, just like the book, the app also uses plain, simple, and understandable language to give in-depth explanations of complex information.
Textual information is supported with charts, tables, and images that can be zoomed-in, so there's no problem with viewing them even on smaller screens.
Also, the content is well-referenced with links to resources that open in the app, which is a big plus. Resources are also listed on the homepage just below four main sections and include US Government and international resources, professional organizations, manufacturers, and more.
Besides viewing the content by chapters, users can also choose to read the complete text, to view all available tables, and view official CDC immunization schedules for different age groups. Schedules list all licensed vaccines which are linked with the app content explaining the particular vaccine.
The Vaccine Handbook app also allows users to search through the chapters, which works ok thanks to the autocomplete, as well as to bookmark, highlight, and annotate the content.
It should be noted that the Vaccine Handbook includes the most current vaccines guidelines published by the ACIP and the CDC.
The only objection I have regarding the app is its availability on only one platform (iOS), while Android users need to look for an alternative elsewhere.
Overall, The Vaccine Handbook is an outstanding app that provides the comprehensive content of the Purple Book in an easy-to-navigate and user-friendly mobile format, making it more convenient for healthcare professionals to access the authoritative guide on vaccines and immunizations on their smartphones and tablets.
Benefit: All providers who administer child or adult immunizations would benefit from this app, including Family Medicine, Pediatrics, Internal Medicine, as well as nursing staff, students, and residents.