The CDC is expanding its mobile app offerings with a new vaccine app. The “CDC Vaccine Schedules” app, unlike the recently released “CHOP Vaccines on the Go” app, is geared toward providers and not patients/parents. As a pediatric resident, I frequently use the CDC’s online vaccine scheduler and web-based tools, and was excited to see their first vaccine app. The app is well-designed for mobile use and has all the basic tools needed for a point-of-care vaccine reference. Disappointingly, the app does not go beyond that to offer the functionality of the CDC website, specifically its personalizable catch-up scheduler.
The app home page that includes buttons for child, adolescent (7-18 year old), catch-up, general adult, adult condition and contraindications to vaccines.
Despite the 6 different options on the home page, the app’s information is essentially divided between child and adult. Clicking on any of the child buttons brings up the schedule in the familiar ACIP schema (yellow for recommended ages, green for catch-up and purple for high-risk conditions), with tabs along the bottom of the screen for birth through 6 year-olds, catch-up schedules, 7-18 year-olds and vaccine resources.
Pressing any of the vaccines brings up information on minimum age to receive the vaccine, routine vaccination, brief catch-up recommendations and vaccination of high-risk populations.
The interface is clean and easy to follow, even on the smaller iPhone screen. The interface on the iPad has an odd bug where the key is both on the bottom of the screen in a collapsible form but can also be brought up on the right by pressing the “key” button. Collapsing the key on the bottom does not increase screen real-estate although it does bring up a link to the “Accessible Vaccine Schedule.” This is a text-heavy version of the schedule (and not very useful). The key button is more useful on the iPhone where the key is fully hidden unless the button is pressed.
The catch-up tab is also broken up by age, and includes the minimum age to start the vaccine schedule and minimum time between doses. As with the main tab, pressing any of the vaccines brings up more detailed information on the vaccine, which is normally included in the footnotes on the printed vaccine schedule. Unlike the CDC’s web-based interactive vaccine catch-up site, there is no functionality to input a child’s age and current vaccines to get a personalized catch-up vaccine list. This is a major limitation of the app.
The adult vaccine schedule is also broken up into age categories and is color coded, identical to the CDC’s printed recommendation schedule. Like the printed schedule, it includes a list of conditions with specific vaccine recommendations, from pregnancy to healthcare personnel. The interface is easy to use, with a drop down menu of conditions that modifies the recommended vaccines. There is also a tab that gives a list of contraindications and precautions to commonly used vaccines in adults — pressing on the individual vaccine brings a page of the vaccine, contraindications and precautions.
The app also offers a number of vaccine-related resources. The resources include links to the website that offers vaccine information statements for each vaccine which opens inside the app, the CDC’s website on vaccine shortages and delays, travel health information centers, the vaccine adverse event reporting system, and resources to use when talking to parents and patients.
Frustratingly, the app does not offer the ability to print, email or open the links and embedded PDFs in any other app. This is particularly frustrating for resources that are designed for parents/patients, such as CDC and AAP’s patient vaccine schedules. There is a “share” button on the homepage, but that is just to share information about the app itself along with a link to it on the iTunes store.
Another frustrating quirk of the user interface is that the app defaults to the home page when users return to the home screen or switch to another app. The third limitation is that while the app has a useful list of contraindications and precautions to commonly used adult vaccines, there is no analogue for pediatric vaccines — users have to look within each vaccine individually to find that data, which is not available for every vaccine.
Evidence to support app use:
- The app uses the 2014 ACIP vaccine recommendations and information. Since this is the first year of the app, it is unclear how quickly the app will be updated when the 2015 vaccine recommendations come out later this year.
Healthcare providers that would benefit from the app
- pediatricians, family practitioners, internists, and OB/GYNs
Patients that may benefit from app
- parents/patients may benefit, but it is clearly geared toward providers
- Easy-to-use format, optimized for mobile
- Maintains the consistent, familiar vaccine schedule format from the CDC/ACIP
- Includes many vaccine-oriented resources
- Lack of interactive catch-up scheduler
- Limited ability to share information from the app
- The CDC’s vaccination app is another welcome addition to the CDC’s increasing number of mobile apps. It is both useful and easy-to-use, with all the basic information needed for point-of-care.
- Unfortunately, it is missing some features that would make it an all-in-one resource for vaccinations, the way the CDC’s website currently is.
- Hopefully, a future version of the app will build on the foundation of the first version of the app.
- Overall Score
- User Interface
- Multimedia Usage
- Real World Applicability
- Device Used For Review
iPad with Retina Display, iPhone 5
- Available for DownloadiPhoneiPad