New app puts vaccination records at your fingertips

November 27, 2012

Ottawa — Is it time to say goodbye to the yellow card, that iconic paper method of recording vaccinations? A new iPhone app aims to make keeping track of your children’s vaccinations easier by putting this important information literally at your fingertips.

"The yellow card seems like an antiquated system for storing information," says Dr. Kumanan Wilson, the physician behind ImmunizeON, an iPhone app released today by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI).

Many people are hard-pressed to know exactly where their immunization records are or whether their children’s vaccines are up-to-date, information required by schools and public health. When their next vaccination appointment comes along, they go without their yellow card, resulting in a new card with information to be transferred to the old one they couldn't find. This scenario is not uncommon.

OHRI's first iPhone app gives Ontario residents – and eventually people in other provinces – an easy way to track their immunizations, and more. Now available for free through iTunes, ImmunizeON provides a way for parents to:
  • keep immunization records for their families at their fingertips,
  • update records on the spot and create an electronic yellow card
  • receive vaccination reminders according to the Ontario vaccination schedule and the child's age,
  • access credible information on vaccines and what to do in case of an adverse reaction
  • receive alerts about outbreaks of vaccine preventable diseases in their area, and
  • send vaccine records to their home email for backup.
ImmunizeON is ready to use for children born after August 2011, which is when the vaccine schedule was last updated. However, people can manually enter any vaccine in the app to keep track of their children’s records.

"The idea came from a conversation with another parent in my neighbourhood. We thought there had to be a better way to keep track of this information in the 21st century," says Dr. Wilson, who is a scientist at the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, a Canada Research Chair in Public Health Policy, and an associate professor in the Department of Medicine at the University of Ottawa. “People often don’t know where their yellow card is, but they can always find their phone.”

Dr. Wilson mentioned the idea to Cameron Bell, an electrical engineering student at McGill University in Montreal in the summer of 2011. Three months later, Bell surprised Dr. Wilson with a beta version of the app. The two have been improving it ever since.

“While, the paper yellow card remains the official vaccination record, we hope this app will make it easier for parents to keep track of their children’s vaccinations,” says Dr. Wilson.
ImmunizeON paves the way for a fully Canadian version in the coming months, which will offer vaccination schedules and alerts from across the country.

Dr. Wilson also wants to develop the app for Android and BlackBerry phones.

He hopes that this is the first stage of a larger vision to make the app part of an integrated system of immunization records that includes public health agencies, with whom Dr. Wilson has been communicating throughout the development of ImmunizeON.

The app is now available on iTunes by searching for ImmunizeON. It also works on iPads.

- 30 -

Media Contact

Paddy Moore
Manager, Communications and Public Relations,
Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
613-798-5555 ext. 73687
613-794-6912 (cell)

About the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI)
The Ottawa Hospital Research Institute (OHRI) is the research arm of The Ottawa Hospital and is an affiliated institute of the University of Ottawa, closely associated with the university’s Faculties of Medicine and Health Sciences. OHRI includes more than 1,700 scientists, clinical investigators, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and staff conducting research to improve the understanding, prevention, diagnosis and treatment of human disease. Research at OHRI is supported by The Ottawa Hospital Foundation.