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Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) Application for Smartphone



The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) serves as the nation’s frontline early warning system to detect vaccine safety concerns. To enhance and sustain reporting efficiency and improve data quality during routine and emergency situations, recent efforts have been made to advance the VAERS web reporting interface and increase web-based reporting. Although web-based reporting can be done with handheld devices and smartphones it is cumbersome and time consuming. The project goal therefore is the development of application software (app) that will help providers readily complete a VAERS reporting form from a smartphone or other device that will be uploaded instantly to the VAERS system.

Currently, more than 200 million mobile apps are used by doctors and patients, and more than 600 million medical apps are projected to be used by 2012. A free app for the FDA’s adverse drug reaction reporting system, “MedWatch”, has already developed and marketed to health care providers and the public to facilitate reporting to MedWatch. With the rapid development of apps and increasing use and popularity of smartphones by health care professionals, an app to facilitate reporting to VAERS would likely be well accepted. This innovation relates to two CDC strategic public health priorities: 1) better prevent illness, injury, disability and death by enhancing the overall vaccine safety monitoring system and thereby keep vaccines as safe as possible and 2) strengthen surveillance, epidemiology, and laboratory services. Moreover, it also addresses the 2011 National Vaccine Plan goal to “enhance the vaccine safety system.”

Project Goal:  The goal of this project is the development of a smartphone application (e.g., iPhone, iPad, Android) that will allow a healthcare provider to instantly link to a VAERS reporting form that is user-friendly and is submitted to the VAERS central database rapidly and securely. This project is a proof of concept study that an app for smartphones can enhance reporting by providers. The VAERS app can include the reportable event table, links to other Web sites and general information about vaccine safety. The results of this project have the potential to increase reporting for clinically important vaccine adverse events since it will target clinicians.

Further dissemination would require additional development to make the app compatible with other smartphones or devices. Collaboration with marketing venues will be necessary to make this app widely available (e.g., iTunes). Adding a link to download this app to multiple provider Web sites such as the American Academy of Pediatrics, American Academy of Family Physicians and others would be appropriate to widely disseminate and encourage adoption of this innovative technology.

Impact:  This work will improve data quality, timeliness of data acquisition and data processing and augment (i.e., increase reporting from clinicians) the vaccine safety monitoring system that contributes to the assessment of risk from vaccinations and helps the Advisory Committee on Vaccine Practices (ACIP) and CDC make evidence-based recommendations for the use of vaccines. Enhanced reporting to VAERS will make this surveillance system a more robust and responsive public health tool for monitoring potential adverse event signals and lead to enhanced vaccine safety monitoring capacity.

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