by: Aaron Stringfield, Pharm.D. Candidate

Vaccination is a word derived from vacca, which is Latin for cow. The backstory goes like this: an English physician, Edward Jenner in the late 18th century, at a time when small pox was still the most common disease in London, made a ground breaking connection. He heard that dairymaids, that had previously been infected with cowpox were not susceptible to smallpox. This was a discovery which led him to concoct what was likely the very first modern vaccine.

Jump forward a century and we see that there are now many types of vaccines, with specific dosing regimens, age and health quality specific parameters, catch up and disease state adjustments, etc… and the list goes on.  It gets overwhelming and that’s exactly why the app “SHOTS by STFM 2012,” was created by the Society for the Teachers of Family Medicine (STFM).

alt (6)

SHOTS provides the user with various up-to-date immunization schedules including both adult and pediatric schedules, catch-up schedules, and more. Included is information on when the information was updated – a critical disclosure as guidelines frequently change. In addition, there is a wealth of information on specific vaccines.

All material for the app is derived from the “Recommended Childhood and Adolescent Immunization Schedules – United States, 2012” and “Recommended Adult Immunization Schedule – United States, 2012.” As the app states, however, it is not an exact copy and includes additional input provided by the authors

alt (5)

alt (4)

alt (3)

alt (2)

Selecting the adult vaccination schedule will bring up an interactive screen that allows the user to look up pertinent vaccine information.  For example, selecting PPSV takes you to an overview page, with information including administration, epidemiology, high-risk indications, and more.

The literature is well laid out and concise; the interface is refreshingly simple and intuitive.  They weren’t trying to over-think things when they designed the app.  It gives you what you want and doesn’t make you hunt for it – a big plus in my book.

Another nice feature is the “Medical” tab which can be accessed from the home screen [see above].  I like this option because it allows the user to hone in on a specific condition a patient may have (i.e., diabetes, pregnancy, immunodeficiency).  Tapping any blue colored writing or symbol brings up a screen with information about the subject matter.

alt (1)

Selecting the word pregnancy along the top row, for example, takes the user to a screen with a list of vaccines and supplemental information an immunizer would need to be aware of when vaccinating a pregnant person.

The only beef I have with the app is that you may have to squint a little to read the writing on some of the charts, and it can be a little challenging to tap the exact blue word you were aiming for.  The designers did realize this though, and built in a mechanism (pop up screen) that narrows down what you were trying to select by asking you to choose between the nearby options closest to your touch point on the screen when appropriate.


  • Free


  • Thorough, up-to date information
  • Large demographic covered
  • Well referenced
  • Concise presentation
  • Intuitive design
  • Color choice is blue
  • Color choice is also red-green color blind friendly
  • The ability to reference all vaccine types and information about them on a device that fits in my pocket


  • Tiny writing on charts may be hard for some to read
  • On some charts, words are close together, which may pose as a minor problem when choosing between one choice over the other. [work around mentioned in above review for this issue]


  • I would have been more than happy to have payed for this app, but it actually won’t cost you a thing
  • The project was supported by funding from the CDC and so one might assume it’s an altruistic endeavor aimed at the greater good
  • It provides a one-stop, all-encompassing mobile shop for all things immunization related – a beautiful tool

iTunes link
Android link