One of the best gifts we can give to ensure that our children receive timely and appropriate immunizations are registries also called immunization information systems (IIS). These confidential, computerized information systems contain vaccination histories and provide immediate access to a child's current immunization status to authorized providers. As a centralized, secure site of single record storage they provide an official immunization record for school, day care, and camp entry requirements. These no-cost tools were created in conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and are available in every state.
By two years of age, over 20% of the children in the U.S. have seen more than one healthcare provider resulting in scattered paper medical records. As families move in and out of both public and private health care systems, parents and providers can use registries as a powerful tool to ensure that the child receives timely immunizations and proper treatment.
Registries save money by ensuring that each child will get only the vaccines that they need. Registries also improve office efficiency by reducing the time needed to gather and review immunization records. Using the registry public health departments can identify those children who are at risk in the event of a disease outbreak or other emergency such as hurricanes, earthquakes, floods or man-made disasters. They can locate communities with low coverage rates so that they can provide targeted interventions to increase coverage rates and protect more children from disease. Many registries also provide appointment reminder notes, integrate immunization services with other public health functions such as lead screening, vision screening, etc., and effectively utilize precious financial resources.
Registries are designed to exchange immunization information with healthcare providers. Data exchange between registries and other information systems helps ensure timely immunizations, consolidation of records, and allows immunization providers to work more efficiently. This function is of vital importance in the case of an emergency, such as in the case of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. With thousands of families homeless and displaced by the hurricane to other states, some as far away as Alaska, the data from registry systems in the Gulf States was available to authorized personnel throughout the country. This enabled children to start school and avoid the pain of unnecessary repeat vaccinations. In many cases, people displaced by the hurricane had no formal identification other than their immunization record downloaded from their home state’s immunization registry system.