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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 http://www.cdc.gov/vaccines, 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

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