SAN FRANCISCO — An online tool developed by pediatricians is helping day care workers promote immunizations and health screenings, Jerold M. Aronson, M.D., said at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Children in day care programs that used the WellCareTracker tool were more likely to be up to date on their immunizations, compared with a 10% sample of children in licensed day care programs in Pennsylvania, a review of 2002-2003 data found.
WellCareTracker is used by more than 250 child care programs that have entered records for more than 20,000 children. The investigators found that in centers using WellCareTracker for more than 6 months, more than 80% of children were up to date with all recommended vaccines, compared with less than 75% of 13,645 children in the statewide sample, said Dr. Aronson of Narberth, Penn.
The AAP's Pennsylvania chapter, which has a history of providing programs that link pediatricians with community-based services, developed WellCareTracker and offered it as a component of its Early Childhood Education Linkage System-Healthy Child Care PA, which networks with child day care programs to provide technical assistance for improving child health. Pediatricians deliver information on individual children for input into WellCareTracker to the day care programs through the parent, which avoids any privacy issues, Dr. Aronson said.
WellCareTracker's tools can be used by anyone accessing the Web site at www.wellcaretracker.org
WellCareTracker allows a nonclinical person to determine whether the child is up to date now, whether the child started vaccinations at the right time or started late, and when a vaccination is due, he said.
All states require that children in group day care programs receive immunizations and health screenings within 60 days of enrollment, he said, but this can be a confusing process for day care workers. Complex immunization and screening schedules, parental resistance, and requirements for documentation and reporting all pose challenges.
Commercial programs are available to help with these, but they are costly and complex, he said. These programs only count vaccine doses, rather than assessing each child's individual up-to-date status per national recommendations, Dr. Aronson added.