One thing I have tried to emphasize, as Director or the San Francisco Immunization Coalition is that Coalition’s can work on improving the safety of vaccines as much as we work on improving and increasing access to them. And continually improving the safety of vaccines will in itself increase people’s willingness to be immunized or have their children immunized.
While the U.S. vaccine supply is probably the safest, most technologically advanced and best monitored in the world, vaccines like everything else can always be made safer. One critical area where Coalition’s can have an impact on the safety of vaccines is the development of immunization registries.
By becoming engaged advocates for the advent of computerized immunization information systems or registries, immunization coalitions can help improve the safety as well as the efficacy of vaccines. Registries provide a more systematic and precise way to administer and monitor the vaccines given to patients. Our local registry comes with a software that advises the immunization provider of the vaccine recommendations, has popup alerts regarding past reactions to vaccines, and endows the immunization provider a tool to give the vaccines at the correct intervals – the intervals that were deemed as the most safe in research studies.
Registries allow for the quick and systematic retrieval of data including lot# in event of a vaccine recall. Registries allow for different providers to share and easily retrieve the immunization record of someone in their clinic/practice - which will reduce the over immunization or re-immunization that occurs when people lose their immunization record. This not only reduces the chances of adverse reaction it reduces wasted vaccine. Some registries automatically create VAERS reports, which facilitate and improve reporting of adverse reactions to vaccines. All these things improve the safety of vaccines. The complexity of the vaccination schedule combined with the mobility of today’s patient population make sophisticated immunization information systems essential to the safety of vaccines.
I even say in talks that people who are skeptical about vaccination should be advocating for registries if they are ingenuously worried about the safety of vaccines.
My next blog will talk about the different ways that Coalition’s can advocate for, support, provide input, and expertise for the development of immunization registries.