For Parents, an Easier Way to Track Vaccines

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Quick: Which shots have your kids received -- and which do they still need? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a free online tool that can help.

The Catch-Up Immunization Scheduler (go to, click on "immunization schedules," then "Interactive Catchup Schedule") lets you plug in your child's birth date and vaccines given and see what's missing.

Your baby was born a year ago and has had one hepatitis B shot? Click 1 (for one dose) under "doses administered," then enter the date of the shot, and a graph lets you know that the bambino needs to catch up on shot No. 2 and is due for shot No. 3 between 14 and 18 months of age.

In recent years, vaccine shortages have caused vaccination delays, public health experts say. At least a third of 2-year-olds are behind on their vaccines, according to the CDC.

Falling behind on shots can mean being barred from day care, camp or school. It also leaves a child at risk for a disease he or she could be immunized against, says Cara Biddle, associate director of the Children's Health Center at Children's National Medical Center. The catch-up schedule spits out data for kids newborn through age 6; versions for older kids, adults and those with compromised immune systems who need extra boosters are in the works.

The site can be a tad confusing: For clarification, take a printout to your next doctor visit. If you've got a newborn and want a schedule of shots-to-come, you can use the Instant Childhood Immunization Scheduler or and plug in your newborn's birth date a list of now the CDC's immunization less 2-, 4-, 6-month the ages of (whooping cough) vaccine, eliminating one shot.

-- Francesca Lunzer Kritz

© 2008 The Washington Post Company