An Internet guide to immunizations

Here’s a reliable source for the latest vaccines

One of the best features of the Internet is the wealth of information it provides, but that wealth can also be its worst feature. With so much information, it’s hard to wade through it all, let alone determine what is and isn’t useful or credible. With a subject as important as immunization, home care workers can’t afford to take the wrong advice. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN, and MayoClinic.com have compiled a list of helpful and common-sense hints in determining whether a web site should be added to your list of bookmarks or noted as a bad information source.

Get to the source. Put greater trust in sites created by major medical centers, national organizations, universities, and government agencies.

Check your background. Is the content based on published medical research? Try to determine if qualified professionals review the content.

Check to see if the information is current. Thanks to new research, health information is dynamic and subject to change. Reliable web sites date the content they publish.

Look for the logo of the Health on the Net (HON) Foundation. Sites that display this logo agree to abide by the HON Code of Conduct. This code includes eight principles, among them that a site must provide information from medically trained professionals, list its funding sources, and distinguish advertising from editorial content.

When it comes to references on immunizations, MayoClinic.com recommends:

Both programs are administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The NIP provides leadership for the planning and coordination of immunization activities in the United States. The NVPO helps coordinate federal, state, and local agencies, health care providers, and private-sector entities that play a role in immunization programs. The NIP site offers national immunization program news, updates on flu vaccines, a searchable database, childhood immunizations schedules, adult-recommended vaccines, and more. The NVPO site offers a look at immunization laws, and the U.S. national vaccine plan.

• National Network for Immunization Information (NNii), www.immunizationinfo.org. As a nonprofit organization of doctors and medical researchers, the NNii offer immunization information to the general public, legislators, and health care providers. The site’s offerings include a state-by-state list of vaccination requirements and a Q&A about school immunization laws.

• Immunization Action Coalition (IAC), www.immunize.org. A nonprofit organization, IAC, is dedicated to improving immunization rates and preventing disease. This site also offers immunization information in a variety of languages, including but not limited to: Arabic, Cambodian, Croatian, Farsi, French, German, Hmong, Japanese, Punjabi, Russian, Spanish, Somali, Turkish, and Vietnamese.

• Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, www.astho.org/state.html. This site links views directly to state health departments for immunization information.