What it is
ImmunizeCA is an iOS and Android app full of vaccination information and tools (you can download it free on iTunes or GooglePlay). It comes at a good time, as cases of measles have been confirmed across Canada; the app will alert you to nearby cases. From an active alert you can see a map of the affected area, the number of cases in the outbreak and you can quickly cross-check if you are up to date on the vaccinations necessary to avoid infection (if you’ve added your personal details). The data is almost a little overprotective – in Ontario there are notifications from outbreaks that happened in 2013.
Why you’d want it
In addition to news and information about vaccines (for travel, for children and seniors and even tips on pain management following injections), the app lets you log your family’s vaccination data. When you add a record of vaccination, the app will tell you if you are up to date, approaching or overdue for a new shot, which is certainly a little more high-tech than those old hand-written wallet-size cards. There’s even a section for travel vaccinations. In addition, the information section is very complete (I didn’t even know they called chickenpox varicella) and there are a number of articles about vaccinations when you first load up the app.
Who made it
The federal department of health collaborated with the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute, the Canadian Public Health Association and Immunize Canada (an NGO dedicated to the “control/elimination/eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases in Canada”). Despite the national nature of the effort, the app contains information that will be specific to your province or territory.
Will it help persuade anti-vaxxers?
Who can say? The information inside is straightforward, “scientifically sound answers to many vaccine questions,” according to Ottawa Hospital Research Institute senior scientist Dr. Kumanan Wilson. It presents the best information public-health professionals have about what vaccines Canadian doctors can use to fight disease (and the app has a scary-long list of diseases we can vaccinate against). It addresses the discredited autism research in the FAQ, and it also takes on the concerns some people have about mercury in the preservatives (vaccines in Canada haven’t used mercury-derived preservatives since 2001, with the exception of the influenza vaccine). But it’s more about helping the vaccinated manage their health data than it is about convincing abstainers.