Immunization Schedules – a Question of Responsibility
A recent article in The Wall Street Journal examined the alarming neglect in immunizations among adult populations in the
But a parallel concern is also found in the question of who is responsible for the upkeep of immunization schedules.
I put this question to Diane Peterson, Associate Director for Immunization Projects at the Immunization Action Coalition in
But there are no centralized data records available for your health history – and if you wind up unconscious in an emergency room, this history should be able to speak for you.
Additionally, as Americans are mobile – moving from job to job, state to state, and doctor to doctor – medical records and immunization schedules are routinely not passed along, and patients are asked to provide these answers from memory.
When was the last time you had a tetanus shot, or a measles booster? Should there not be a database for this historical information?
“Automated immunization registries have been in the works for more than 10 years,” said Ms. Peterson. “Mobility has made it difficult for parents to remember their children’s vaccinations, and doctors have to rely on the recollections of these parents. The automated system will likely not be extended to adults because there are simply too many adults. With children, we can start clean from birth records – and schedule and record the administration of the various immunizations accordingly.”
The current administration of immunization schedules is surprisingly sparse. The Centers for Disease Control put together recommendations and schedules that are published in medical journals – an action that assumes that the select journals are being read by general practitioners of all disciplines. Immunization Action Coalition publishes laminated recommendation schedules – based on the CDC’s latest data – and distributes them to doctors nationwide. But in the end it is an admittedly flawed process.
Ms. Peterson recommends keeping a hardcopy record in your wallet, and she says there is no harm in over-vaccinating. “If you’re in doubt, go ahead and vaccinate.”
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