Queensland Health has apologised to app users for the data loss and has fixed the issue. (ABC News: Melinda Howells)
A Queensland Health mobile app designed to issue reminders for childhood vaccinations has been wiping the data entered by parents, prompting complaints that it is essentially “useless”.
- About 60 people have complained to Queensland Health about the app wiping data
- Queensland Health has apologised to app users and said it has fixed the problem
- Health Minister Steven Miles said the app shouldn’t be solely relied upon for vaccination reminders
The free VacciDate app was launched in 2014, allowing parents to enter their child’s details and receive reminders on their smartphones and tablets when immunisations are due.
But dozens of parents have reported their information has been deleted from the app and are no longer receiving alerts in the lead-up to scheduled vaccinations.
Brisbane mother Ashleigh Waldby had been using VacciDate to keep track of immunisations for her two children but recently discovered that their profiles had been wiped, meaning she would no longer receive alerts.
“It basically meant it may as well not have been on my phone,” she said.
Ms Waldby only became aware of the data loss issue after another parent mentioned it and she checked her app.
Ashleigh Waldby said she was never notified by Queensland Health that her children’s data had been wiped. (ABC News: Melinda Howells)
“If I hadn’t gone in and opened it — I would have missed that all the data [was] gone,” she said.
“There’s potential that a lot of people aren’t aware of that.”
‘What’s the point?’
Other parents have vented their frustration by posting negative reviews online, earning VacciDate a one-star rating on Apple’s App Store and 2.4 stars on Google Play.
“My daughter’s record was wiped after an update, meaning that I did not get a reminder when her next vaccinations were due, which basically renders the app useless,” one user wrote.
“What’s the point of notifications if you have to keep checking if the data is still saved?” another review said.
Ms Waldby contacted Queensland Health, which said it was aware of the problem and told her to re-enter her children’s details.
“They knew that there was a need for users to go in and complete that last little bit of a fix so that it was working again as intended, but there hadn’t been any kind of communication or notification to people that they needed to do more,” she said.
App only a reminder
In a statement, a Queensland Health spokesman apologised to app users.
“VacciDate is a great app, and we want to apologise to parents who may have experienced data loss recently,” a statement read.
“We’ve recently rolled out changes that will improve app functionality and ensure this issue doesn’t happen again.
“Since the app was first developed in 2014, vaccination rates for kids in Queensland have soared and are very close to the 95 per cent target.”
There are more than 65,000 people using the app, but only about 60 people have complained directly to Queensland Health.
Parents have vented their frustration by posting negative reviews on the App Store, earning VacciDate a one-star review.
(ABC News: Melinda Howells)
Health Minister Steven Miles said the problem had been fixed.
“Apps like this will only ever be a reminder. The primary source of information is the vaccination register and that’s why if anyone at all is concerned, they should talk to their doctor,” he said.
The Australian Medical Association Queensland’s chair of General Practice, Dr Richard Kidd, said the problems with VacciDate were concerning.
“It’s very disappointing that there’s been a problem,” he said.
“Some of the vaccines for children in the schedule are time critical, so if people miss that notification then that can have implications on how well their children are going to be vaccinated.
“I’d urge everyone to check with your GP.”
Users should be notified
Dr Kidd said many GP services offered their own reminder services for parents, including SMS alerts, while official records were kept by the Australian Immunisation Register.
But he urged Queensland Health to notify VacciDate users that there had been problems with the app.
“We need to do everything we can to alert anyone who might be affected,” Dr Kidd said.
“It would be a real shame if they realise months late. Vaccination is so important — it does literally save lives.”