Immunization registry systems have been shown to be important for finding pockets of under-immunized individuals and for increasing vaccination coverage. Two innovative applications, which link the National Immunization Information System (NIIS) with other databases, have been proved to be effective for better control of measles in Taiwan. Firstly, by linking the NIIS with hospital administrative records, the contacts of measles cases with high risk were followed up in a timely manner. Secondly, by linking the NIIS with an immigration database, young citizens entering Taiwan from abroad were ensured to be fully vaccinated. The experience gained could provide a valuable example for other countries.
[Photo: Dr. Shou-Hsia Cheng]
Conducted by Dr. Shou-Hsia Cheng, professor of health policy and management at the College of Public Health, NTU and Ms. Ding-Ping Liu, director of Epidemic Intelligence Centers of Taiwan Centers for Disease Control, who is also a doctoral student at NTU, this article has been published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control in the December 2014 issue of Eurosurveillance.
“Immunization is the most effective and efficient way to prevent vaccine-preventable diseases. However, the appropriate coverage rate is still critical for a comprehensive immunization program, especially for highly contagious diseases such as measles,” said Dr. Cheng, the study’s senior author.
In many countries, comprehensive immunization registry information systems are well established and have proved helpful in improving vaccination coverage. “New concepts of immunization database linkage could help to address the weakness in measles control in mobile populations and within medical settings, even in countries with comprehensive vaccination polices,” said Ms. Liu. As the applications have been conducted in Taiwan since 2009, there have been no measles outbreaks in hospitals; in addition, the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine (MMR) coverage rate at two years of age has increased from 96 percent to 98 percent.
Dr. Cheng said, “One issue concerning the application is the protection of personal information; In Taiwan, the Personal Information Protection Act states that the government agency should use personal information in accordance with the scope of its job functions, and in compliance with the specific purpose of collection. However, the information may be used outside this scope when it is used to prevent harm to life, body, freedom, or property and where it is used to prevent harm to the rights and interests of other people. With the necessary protection of personal information, the experience of Taiwan’s immunization information system and its application could be valuable for other countries now that international travel and workforce exchanges have become commonplace.”