Governors are responsible for making strategic decisions on how best to spend limited public health resources during the COVID-19 pandemic. Governors have the opportunity to leverage federal funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) and other COVID supplemental funds to both improve current response efforts and make lasting investments in public health infrastructure. Modernizing public health data systems, improving surveillance and analytic capabilities, and improving real-time sharing between public health and health system partners can help state leaders respond to the current crisis while better preparing states to prevent and respond to outbreaks of infectious disease in the future.
The COVID-19 pandemic revealed a number of challenges for public health information systems, including the limited capacity of some existing state Immunization Information Systems (IISs, also commonly referred to as immunization registries) to dramatically scale up during the COVID-19 vaccination effort. Many state systems struggled to accommodate additional demand, implement new functionalities, onboard immunization providers, support interoperable exchange with health care partners and enable timely reporting of immunization data to federal partners.
A modernized, interoperable immunization data infrastructure, capable of securely exchanging data in real time with health system and federal partners, is critical to the current COVID-19 response. It can also assist efforts to promote “catch up” vaccinations for routine childhood and seasonal immunizations that have lagged during the pandemic, as well as efforts to limit the spread of future infectious diseases. Further enhancements to IIS capabilities and functionality can also promote consumer access to vaccination records, facilitate state-to-state information sharing, improve analytic capabilities to better target vaccine resources and support vaccine program activities that can better prepare states for booster shots or future pandemics. As states provide third vaccine doses to immunocompromised individuals and prepare for potential booster efforts for the general public, further enhancements to IIS capabilities and functionality can support state leaders by enabling improved consumer access to vaccination records, facilitating state-to-state information sharing, improving analytic capabilities to target vaccine resources and supporting vaccine program activities.
This issue brief provides Governors and senior state officials with key priorities and considerations for modernizing IISs, including leveraging federal funding available to support these efforts. Specifically, this issue brief outlines key functions and current challenges for IISs, available federal funding streams that can support IIS modernization and potential policy, programmatic and technology changes state leaders may consider to strengthen and improve their immunization data infrastructure.