It's been said if we can count the children, we can reach them. If we can reach them, we can immunize them and provide them with the health care they need to thrive. To provide this vital care, we need to know when our children have missed their shots so that we can remind them and guide them back to their health care provider.
The best gifts we can give our children to ensure that they receive timely and appropriate immunizations are immunization registries. These confidential, computerized information systems contain vaccination histories and provide immediate access to a child's current shot status.
As families move in and out of public and private health care systems, parents and providers can use registries as a powerful tool to ensure that children receive timely immunizations and proper treatment. With the increasing complexity of the immunization schedule, registries are absolutely essential in helping parents and providers ensure that children do not miss vital vaccines.
Public health departments can identify children at risk and locate communities with low coverage. They will promote the use of appointment reminder notes, integrate immunization services with other public health functions and effectively utilize precious financial resources.
Registries have been created (with taxpayer funds) in every state in the nation and are already providing public health with invaluable information. Approximately 55% of U.S. children age six and younger have been included in a registry. However, all immunization providers must report vaccinations to the registries in order to ensure that children are up to date on all of their vaccines. While nearly 75% of public provider sites report to registry, only 44% of private providers are currently reporting. Efforts are underway to encourage enrollment of providers and several states mandate reporting to the registry.