Over the last century, the average life expectancy for Canadians has increased by more than 20 years. When you ask health experts why that is, one of the top answers is vaccines.

Vaccination has all but eradicated many diseases that used to kill both adults and children. It has also helped prevent the spread of more common illnesses like influenza and pneumococcal disease.

Despite evidence showing that vaccines are safe and the benefits they can provide can be lifesaving, uptake of vaccines remains much lower than we would like. Logistical challenges, misconceptions, and a lack of knowledge have all been reported as barriers to increased immunization uptake.

Although there is no Canada-wide vaccine registry, in some jurisdictions it’s estimated that as few as 50 percent of children are getting all of their recommended vaccines. In fact, annual flu vaccine coverage rates across Canada remain underwhelming, with only about 30 percent of children in the vulnerable six months to four years of age range receiving their annual flu shot.

An app that keeps you on track!

Dr. Kumanan Wilson and his team of scientists and engineers at The Ottawa Hospital mHealth Lab hope their digital solution, CANImmunize can help. CANImmunize is a free app and website for Canadians that can help them to stay on top of their vaccination needs. Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada, parents can easily track vaccination for their entire family, and receive reminders when they are due. Conveniently, it can be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, as well as on the internet.

“The influenza vaccine is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of influenza”, says Dr. Wilson.  “You can receive your flu shot from your local pharmacist, a public health nurse, or your doctors’ office and walk away with a paper card. Or, you can upload the information to your phone, so you can always have it available and be reminded about getting it next year.”

In addition to tracking vaccinations, CANImmunize users can benefit from expert-approved resources on immunization for children, travelers, pregnant women, and adults 65 plus, amongst others. The technology within CANImmunize can also generate custom schedules for children in each province and territory.

For more information on the recommended vaccines for yourself and your family, speak to your health care provider. To download CANImmunize, visit canimmunize.ca.