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Thursday, March 4th, 2021

HHS awards nearly $20M in effort to boost immunization data sharing

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will award nearly $20 million in funds from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act to increase data sharing between health information exchanges and immunization information systems.

“These CARES Act funds will allow clinicians to better access information about their patients from their community immunization registries by using the resources of their local health information exchanges,” Dr. Don Rucker, national coordinator for health information technology, said. “Through these collaborative efforts, public health agencies and clinicians will be better equipped to more effectively administer immunizations to at-risk patients, understand adverse events, and better track long-term health outcomes as more Americans are vaccinated.”

The selected projects will build up an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) program to help communities improve the sharing of health information for vaccinations. Public health agencies involved can receive extra help tracking and identifying patients who have not yet gotten their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. Together, they can also better identify high-risk individuals who have not yet received any vaccination.

Currently, 63 immunization information systems exist in the U.S. Most of these are state-based, but eight territories and five cities also have them. Another approximately 100 health information exchange organizations operate in the country.

These new awards will also benefit the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) to support immunization related health information exchange collaborations. Funding will also provide a way to measure vaccination outcomes in collaboration with HIEs. This united effort will offer the ability to match every vaccine recipient with their clinical data, both pre- and post-vaccination, allowing greater insight into potential adverse effects or long-term health outcomes.