It’s one of your first childhood memories. Going to the medical clinic, rolling up your sleeve and getting poked with a needle. Immunizations are not just “kid’s stuff.” According to studies released by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID), adults in America are not getting the immunizations they need. Perhaps more troubling, many are not aware of the risk of vaccine-preventable diseases.

Online help has arrived for the procrastinating grown-up. Mayo Clinic and Microsoft have launched the Mayo Clinic Health Manager, a high-tech, yet easy-to-understand tool that will not only keep you current with immunizations, but help protect and manage your family’s health. In an e-mail interview with Men and Health: It’s a Guy Thing, Gregory Poland, MD, Director of Vaccine Research at Mayo Clinic, says, “You can use it to organize health information for multiple family members in one place and receive real-time, individualized information, reminders and health guidance developed by experts at Mayo Clinic, based on the data you enter.”

Among the features of this free Internet tool is the “Family Dashboard” page. “When you log in to your family’s account, it displays a quick summary of each family member. Depending on the information you enter, these summaries can include a photo and brief information on each person, as well as a snapshot of the number of recommendations available in each person’s individual profile, says Dr.Poland. Mayo Clinic Health Manager can juggle several family needs. “A mom, for example, might receive information reminding her she’s due for a tetanus shot, and a recommendation to update her son’s asthma management plan, along with other useful information to keep her family’s information up-to-date and their health on track,”adds Dr. Poland.

Statistics from the CDC and NFID show that “each year, about 50,000 adults die from diseases that can be prevented by vaccines. Millions more get sick, leading to missed work, not being able to care for those who depend on them, and passing the illness on to others.” More troubling stats reveal “fifteen percent of those surveyed, ages 19-64, have received the Tdap vaccine, which protects against tetanus, diphtheria and pertussis.” Of concern to the older set, “about seven percent of senior citizens are vaccinated against shingles, an extremely painful disease caused by the chickenpox virus.”

The Mayo Clinic Health Manager can remind younger woman about a critical health concern. “Ten percent of women aged 19-26 have been vaccinated against the human papillomavirus, which can prevent 70 percent of all cervical cancers.”

Dr. Poland notes the Mayo Clinic Health Manager can help adult children manage an aging parent’s health. “Information can be shared among siblings or health care providers, making it easier for families to interact with an elderly parent’s caregivers or care facility.”

This user-friendly Internet service, which provides a foundation of privacy and security features with the help of Microsoft HealthVault, can even inspire stubborn baby boomer men. According to Dr. Poland, “When reminders from spouses and family members aren’t enough to get a guy to the doctor, Mayo Clinic Health Manager can help. It provides recommendations that remind him when it’s time for a check-up or a health screening, and keeps information easily accessible and manageable.”

Despite the assistance the Mayo Clinic Health Manager provides, you still have to go to the doctor, roll up your sleeve and take your medicine. https://healthmanager.mayoclinic.com/Default.aspx

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