I vividly remember taking my precious two-month-old for her first set of immunizations. Along with other new parents, we paced nervously in the waiting room of our family doctor — awkward, over-prepared, and truly heartsick for having to do what we knew would protect our daughter from preventable infectious diseases. Rationalization makes the needle-prick sting less.
Fifteen months later, and we’ve now had five similar visits to our family doctor, with at least two more visits to come before my daughter turns six and other immunizations later in elementary and high school.
Organizing, scheduling, and tracking your kids’ immunizations can be a daunting task. Add “baby-brain,” other kids, and a dash of “life responsibilities” to that, and you’re lucky to keep it well-managed and on-schedule.
In knowing that your child has added protection against preventable diseases, you’ll come to notice that schools, child care centers, and camps all want to confirm that your child’s immunizations are up to date. This means they will want to see an official record.
This vital tracking doesn’t stop there: medical school students need to provide their immunization records. Even expecting mothers are asked about their immunities. When I was pregnant, my own immunity to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) was unconfirmed, so I got a quick shot on my way out of the hospital with my newborn.
URImmunized.ca is a great resource; it provides tips and information about individual provincial vaccination schedules, answers questions you may have, and has information on common post-shot reactions.
Did you know that each province in Canada has created its own immunization schedule? You can find info on your province's schedule through the URImmunized website.
My good friend Skye and her husband — who are both medical professionals — have moved provinces twice, with their two small children, in the recent past. This meant three sets of doctors and six vaccine record booklets. Skye thought she was on the ball until she received a notice saying that her child was being suspended from school because her vaccines were not up to date.
Through this example, you can see how it can be complicated enough to track, even if you’re staying in the same province. Your doctor’s office will likely provide you with an official immunization record at your child’s first visit. This is your official home record.
Both paper and parents are not infallible, and this is where trouble arises.
First, find a way not to lose the doctor’s official record. If you haven't yet received an official record (or maybe it’s permanently missing), remind yourself to request a copy at your next visit by writing it in your calendar. Go on, write it down.
Once you have the official record, you can:
Add to or create a home file for your child’s health records
Put the official record in your Home Management Guide
Take a picture of the record, date it, and email it to important caregivers such as other parents, grandparents, and child care providers. Email it to yourself, too.
In Canada, there’s a FREE App for that. Immunize Canada offers an app that allows you to electronically track your child’s immunization records. It also allows you to receive notifications for when you need to be making your next vaccination appointment. You can download the app here.
Now that you have a safe place to record the information, how do you keep on top of next appointment?
Set an electronic calendar reminder on the spot. I like to do this while I’m sitting in the doctor’s office, right after the needle. “Great, so we’re seeing you again when? Three months from now is the next vaccine? I’m putting a reminder to schedule the appointment in my calendar now.” Let’s allow technology to do some good.
Put November 10th, World Immunization Day, in your calendar annually. Use it as a reminder to check your child’s records against the latest immunization information from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
Use other notable dates, such as back-to-school, birthdays, March Break or the start of summer vacation to trigger a review of your immunization schedule.
In the end, the tracking of this essential info falls on you, there is no way around that. There is no foolproof way to manage this. Just like the universe of parenting, it may not be a perfect process or a smooth journey, but the unconditional love you show your kids means that you will find a way to manage it — one that works for you and your family.
Multi-tasking moms juggle hundreds of things a day but you don’t want to drop the ball when it comes to your child’s immunization schedule. Here's more info to help you de-mystify vaccinations:
Read about the resurgence of diseases that were previously under control and how important it is to protect your kids with immunization.
Watch this webisode to learn why parents of children with asthma need to pay special attention to their child's vaccination schedules.
Watch this webisode to learn the Myths vs. Facts about vaccination.
For more information on immunization and vaccination schedules, talk to your pediatrician, or visit URImmunized.ca.