Getting health information is easier than ever thanks to the Internet and modern technologies. However, this information isn't always backed by science. However, weeding out scientifically accurate information (or a good information) from bad, which isn't based on science can be difficult. This is especially true for vaccines that stir a lot of controversies.
Many trusted sources publish quality information about vaccines, providing it to the healthcare professionals and general audience, often in a form of mobile apps.
For example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) developed Vaccine Schedules app that we reviewed on SteadyHealth, which helps medical providers with immunization schedules.
Another example is the app we review today. The Vaccine Education Center at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (VEC) created Vaccines on the Go (or Vaccines on the Go: What You Should Know as is its full title), which is aimed at parents, helping them find accurate information about the science, safety, and importance of vaccines.
The app includes information about the actual vaccines and the diseases they prevent, along with potential side effects, vaccine safety topics, including autism, types of vaccines and how they're made and recommended immunization schedules for children, teens, and adults.
The app opens to the Home screen featuring several sections, including Vaccines, Safety, Schedule, and Videos. These sections are also available on the menu at the bottom of the screen.
The home screen also contains additional sections, such as Types of Vaccines, Games, Glossary and a Notes section to write notes and questions for doctors that parents may have.
Vaccines section features an alphabetical list of all of the vaccines covered in the app, from chickenpox to shingles.
To view more information about each vaccine, simply tap on it. The new page would open containing summarized information about the type of vaccine, side effects, special considerations, and reasons to get the vaccine. Each vaccine provides more information on a PDF document, which is linked to the Children's Hospital’s website.
All vaccines also have Disease tab that provides more information about the actual disease that can be prevented with the vaccine. Here, you can read how the disease spreads, a level of contagiousness depicted as illustrated graphs that feature stickmen or maps. This section also contains information on symptoms, possible complications, and typical disease timeline.
Safety section includes general safety topics that explain (or debunk) the link between vaccines and certain conditions, such as allergies, asthma, chronic diseases, and what probably interests the most, autism. Here, you can also read other topics that compare benefits of natural infections vs. vaccines, explain whether sick children should receive a vaccination or not, vaccine safety monitoring systems, and show statistics and resources.
Here, in the Safety section, there's also "What's in the Vial" that explains what can be found in a vaccine, such as aluminum, antibiotics, chemicals, preservatives, stabilizers, etc. This sub-section also provides an explanation of the amounts of a particular component in the vaccine and how it compares to everyday exposures.
Finally, there are Vaccine Schedules under Safety, which contains topics that address common questions related to the recommended schedule. These topics explain how the vaccine is added to the schedule, "one-size-fits-all" schedule, recommendations vs. requirements, what happens is vaccine dose is missed, do children receive too many vaccines, and more.
Schedule section shows all vaccine schedules sorted by age, i.e. up to 2 years of age and after 2 years of age. For example, if your child belongs to the first category, you can check upcoming vaccinations from birth to 18 months of age. Vaccines are just listed here, not linked with Vaccines sections, so you need to return there and read up on them before seeing your physician. It would be much better if vaccines are linked to lead parents directly to the information about each vaccine.
Other parts of the app are well linked, for example, you can access Schedules from Vaccines. However, there's no Back button to return you where you've previously been, so if you've checked schedules and you want to return to Vaccines, you need to open that section and find vaccine again.
Vaccines on the Go app allows users to add notes and questions for their physician during the next visit. There is also Videos section that provides general information about vaccines and can be played in the app.
All content in the app contains more information documents that can be viewed as PDF or on parent Children's Hospital of Philadelphia website that opens in the app if you use iPhone, or uses phone browser on Android.
Vaccines on the Go app also contains information on various types of vaccines, such as combination vaccines, conjugate vaccines, recombinant vaccines, and more.
There is also a section with games, which includes memory card games, matching disease to the vaccine, and hangman that users can play to learn more about words found in Glossary section, which contains some terms related to the vaccines and related disorders and conditions.
Vaccines on the Go app is a very useful resource for parents, who want to get reliable scientific information presented in a compact and easy to understand format, which explains vaccinations, diseases they can prevent, side effects, schedules, and more.
Benefit: All parents who want to have general information on vaccinations from reliable sources