Participation within the Virginia Immunization Info System is crucial to retaining Virginia wholesome
By Dr Michael Martin
As Virginia continues to grapple with the general public well being challenges of COVID-19, the distribution of vaccines throughout the Commonwealth provides a long-needed glimmer of hope.
The complicated means of distributing the COVID-19 vaccine underscores the significance of correct immunization histories and information. Whereas Virginia had the foresight years in the past to spend money on an immunization registry for people, households, healthcare suppliers and public well being researchers, latest actions taken by the Basic Meeting have strengthened the nationwide database on vaccine historical past and distribution. To maintain our communities wholesome even after the pandemic, all healthcare suppliers who administer vaccines, beginning in January 2022, will take part within the Virginia Immunization Info System.
VIIS is a free, state-wide digital immunization registry that information reported immunization doses distributed by healthcare suppliers to people, rising the power to reply appropriately to preventable illness outbreaks by way of vaccination. Vaccine registry programs like VIIS are extraordinarily helpful in enhancing the general public well being response to illness outbreaks like measles, hepatitis A, H1N1 and now COVID-19. By sharing knowledge with the state, acceptable sources may be deployed to counter outbreaks and assist improve neighborhood vaccination charges. At the moment, the Virginia Division of Well being stories that 2.1 million kids are under-immunized.
VIIS is a straightforward system – residents of Virginia obtain immunizations from quite a lot of places together with pediatricians, household care suppliers, hospitals, workplaces, pharmacies, public well being departments, well being facilities emergency care and extra. These vaccine suppliers ship the affected person’s immunization information to VIIS, which in flip offers entry to the information to approved customers, together with sufferers and healthcare suppliers. For instance, if a scholar is in search of medical care on the scholar well being middle, the care supplier will be capable to see what vaccines the coed is lacking if the coed’s common well being care supplier has used. VIIS. For outpatient clinics and practices, VIIS helps handle vaccine stock and reduce waste.
Households present process childhood immunizations additionally profit from the usage of VIIS. Kids will obtain dozens of vaccines within the first years of life to guard them from infectious illnesses like hepatitis, pertussis, tetanus and measles. If a household strikes throughout the Commonwealth or just will get a brand new well being care supplier, VIIS serves as a central database to reference previous immunization data and guarantee information aren’t misinterpret or misplaced.
Immunization registers additionally cut back over-immunization charges by offering a central supply of correct immunization information to well being care suppliers fairly than counting on inaccurate printing and copying of information that result in errors. The Virginia Division of Well being stories that 21% of youngsters are over-immunized as a consequence of inadvertent duplicate immunizations as a consequence of incorrect data shared with suppliers. We have to bridge the hole between under-vaccination and over-vaccination.
VIIS is a safe system with a number of ranges of safety that replicate federal, state, native, and territorial legal guidelines that shield the confidentiality of data. VIIS information adjust to the identical guidelines of confidentiality and confidentiality as different elements of a affected person’s medical file. Above all, VIIS respects the person’s proper to choose out and keep management over data that’s shared or not.
Thus far, participation in VIIS has been voluntary for many suppliers who immunize. Thus, massive data gaps undermined the reliability and usefulness of the system and prevented Virginia from realizing the total potential of VIIS. Luckily, the Basic Meeting handed Invoice 2061, which requires all well being care suppliers administering vaccines to take part in VIIS. This laws is especially well timed as Virginia continues to navigate the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine and seeks to precisely monitor the vaccination of Virginians as a part of the Commonwealth’s restoration from the pandemic, significantly within the pursuits of equity.
As a pediatrician, daily that I get a baby immunized, I do not forget that vaccines are one of many best public well being protections we now have. Even now, vaccines are in all probability probably the most highly effective weapon we now have towards COVID-19. With the adoption of HB 2061, extra distributors will use VIIS, which can assist guarantee Virginia can successfully deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and all future pandemics.
Dr. Michael Martin is President of the Virginia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics and a member of the ImmunizeVA Steering Committee.