July 9, 2013
The mother of three was confused by the school’s recommendation since she had not yet submitted the health records for her son indicating whether or not he had received his vaccinations.
When the mother contacted the school’s director, even she was confused. The director informed her that the state of Virginia has built a website that allows schools to access children’s health information, including what pediatrician they see and any insurance claims that have been made.
The distraught mom contacted the Virginia Immunization Information System (VIIS) and was informed that the site’s purpose is to provide children’s health information and allow it to be easily accessed by health officials.
According to the Virginia Department of Health’s website the “VIIS is a free statewide registry system that combines immunization history for persons of all ages from both the public and the private sector. Immunization information is accessible to authorized users only.”
The state’s website says VIIS provides many benefits such as:
Consolidating vaccination records from multiple providers into one record.
Providing updated recommendations for immunization scheduling based on the CDC recommendations
Producing an official immunization record for patients that also serves as part of the school entry form (MCH-213 form)
Generates reminder notices for children who are due for vaccines
Serves as a great tool for Vaccines for Children (VFC) providers
The site describes it’s data exchange as a “method of transferring immunization data from an existing electronic system and into the Virginia Immunization Registry System.” VIIS says the parents do not have to provide consent for their children’s records to be added to the database. If your doctor is signed up, the records automatically sync into the electronic database.
According to VIIS, it doesn’t require much to become a provider either. You simply apply, show proof of your credentials, and the program actually travels to you and offers training.
Ester Seisay, a Statistical Analyst at VIIS, said the program began seven years ago during the H1N1 flu epidemic. It’s purpose was to track citizens who had and hadn’t received the flu shot.
Children who hadn’t received the flu shot were flagged so that the providers could encourage the parents to comply with the vaccinations requirements. There are a number of providers who have opted into the electronic system including pharmacies, pediatricians, hospitals and schools.
Ester Seisay also confirmed that the program receives both state and federal funding.