Background: Researchers from Emory University Preparedness and Emergency Response Research Center, Association of Immunization Managers, Oregon State Public Health Department, Immunization Program, and Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, Office of Public Health Pandemic Preparedness & Immunization Program conducted a survey of Vaccines for Children (VFC) Program provider sites to understand providers’ plans for managing the 2009 – 2010 seasonal influenza and influenza A (H1N1) 2009 monovalent vaccination campaigns.
Objectives: Assess VFC provider sites’ utilization of state-based immunization information systems (IIS) for functions such as reporting vaccine administration, receiving communications from the health department, and checking patient vaccination status, along with evaluating the utility of other mechanisms of communicating information.
Methods: The survey was administered via blast fax to 428 VFC provider sites in Oregon and 673 VFC provider sites in Louisiana in September and October 2009. Reminders to non-respondents were administered via fax, email and telephone. Data were analyzed using Feedback Server 2008 (Data Illusion, Stockholm, Sweden) and SAS, version 9.2 (Cary, NC).
Results: Survey responses were obtained from staff at 38% and 26% of VFC provider sites in Oregon and Louisiana, respectively. Over 95% of respondents in both states reported to be compliant with the requirement to submit immunization data to their state’s IIS. Sixty-two percent of respondents in Louisiana and 28% of respondents in Oregon indicated IIS to be among the three most preferred methods for public health departments to communicate information about influenza vaccine. Eighty-seven percent of respondents in Louisiana and 57% of respondents in Oregon planned to use their IIS to check the vaccination status of all patients presenting to receive influenza vaccinations.
Conclusions: Variations in results between Oregon and Louisiana were likely due to differences in state-specific vaccine distribution and communication practices as well as age-based reporting requirements. Despite this, the two states successfully implemented mandates for IIS reporting during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. There is evidence that specific functionalities like using IIS to disseminate updated communications to providers and checking vaccination status of patients presenting for vaccine can improve the usefulness of IIS as a tool to facilitate the health system’s response to vaccine-related public health emergencies.