At the INFORMS conference I attended a talk about the Catch-up Immunization Scheduler for children six years of age and younger at the conference I just attended. The talk, by Hannah Smalley and Pinar Keskinocak (both from Georgia Tech), was a finalist for the INFORMS Daniel H. Wagner Prize, which recognizes excellence in the practice of operations research.
This tool, available from the CDC, helps parents and pediatricians quickly figure out what to do when a child is no longer on the recommended vaccination schedule. (There are also versions for older children and for adults.) Essentially, given the child’s vaccination history and current age, the tool determines, based on national vaccination guidelines, which vaccinations the child still needs, and when they should be given.
The tool uses a vaccine library that facilitates updates when guidelines change. The problem of finding the optimal catch-up schedule is extremely difficult; the tool uses a algorithm that finds a high-quality solution quickly.