In honor of World Immunization Week, we’re taking a look back at advancements in and challenges of immunization data reporting that STChealth has faced during the global COVID-19 pandemic.
STChealth currently works with four of the top 10 U.S. Fortune 500 companies to support their employee and customer immunization efforts. Through the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the need for timely and accurate COVID-19 vaccine reporting has become a key to increasing the uptake of the new coronavirus vaccines. All U.S. COVID-19 vaccines administered by providers from public health, clinical care, pharmacy, and mass immunization sites are reported to the appropriate Public Health Immunization Information Systems (IIS).
STC operates a national immunization health information exchange. Ever since the first Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine became available to the public on December 14, 2021, STChealth’s network has managed and reported nearly 50 million vaccines to public health systems across the country.
Nick Harrah, an STChealth data exchange expert, said, “The challenge for all providers has been to quickly and efficiently implement electronic reporting from their facilities to public health systems—allowing them to report COVID-19 patient vaccines within 72 hours. As more providers enrolled in programs to provide vaccines, the demand increased exponentially to report electronically.”
Nick continued, “There is a formal process to ensure the highest data quality as you simply cannot accept just any record. As soon as you do, someone is asking why the data is incomplete or inaccurate. You are better off when they ask ‘How soon I will see this data?’”
“This process has been in place since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act,” said Michael Popovich, CEO of STChealth. He added, “Thankfully it has proven to create high quality data within the IIS. The increased reporting demand stretches resources to test and ensure each individual connection is up to the highest standards.”
“A pandemic technology win,” Mr. Popovich continued, “has been this infrastructure and point-to-point provider connection. Public health and the provider community have worked hard nearly 24 hours a day to facilitate this electronic reporting. Over 50 million records have been reported through the STChealth network. This is a way the top companies in the Fortune 500 and others can create alliances with public health, providers and STChealth to protect those that work and those that they serve.”
The District launched a new website today meant to act as a clearinghouse for residents’ vaccination records from the flu to tetanus and the coronavirus.
The portal will allow residents to view and print official copies of their vaccination records, and their dependents’ records, at any time. Perfect for if you lost your vaccination card or ran it through the wash on accident. The record can also be used as proof for places that require COVID immunization.
But many people on social media reported that despite being vaccinated, their data hasn’t shown up on the website, MyIR.dc.gov.
Patrick Ashley, Senior Deputy Director of Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Administration at the DC Department of Health, says it could be a lag in the reporting.
Any vaccination sites in D.C. must transmit the data to the District’s immunization registry, which feeds the My IR portal. The rest comes through the CDC immunization gateway, which may take longer, he says.
Most times it should show up instantaneously, Ashley said.
District residents who got the vaccine in a different jurisdiction may have a delay in the information posting in MyIR. People who said they got their shots at a pharmacy like Walgreens and CVS, that are outside the District’s pre-registration process, also reported issues.
Some users didn’t find their COVID immunization on the main page, but it did appear on a PDF version of their record.
Users also must have the correct information to access the records, like the spelling of their name, address, phone number, and more. Ashley says your data could be missing if providers input your information incorrectly or you gave an old address. Some people may have also opted not to share their records when they got the shots.
But if you have trouble finding your COVID record, Ashley says to use the chat function to start an investigation where website reps will help track down the information and get it on your record. Ashley also recommended reaching out to the provider for help.
The portal is just one tool to help show you’re vaccinated — the vaccine card is still the most important tool, he said.
“Make sure to take a picture of it,” Ashley said.