Hot Take | Immunization Tracking: A Uniquely Pertinent Case for Interoperability

by | Mar 23, 2021

In this Hot Take, our Director of Research, Brian Murphy, digs into a timely example of one of the important ways healthcare interoperability is currently lacking: easily accessible immunization records. As the COVID vaccine rollout accelerates, the need to have vaccination status as a retrievable data point in patient health records grows in tandem. 

While the actual collection of this data will be handled by various government entities, the distribution of this data to the rest of the health care system will be an ongoing challenge. Stay tuned for updates about Brian’s pending report on Integration Infrastructure, which provides robust coverage of these technologies and the vendors who are working to make key records like immunization history more readily available when needed.


Hi, I’m Brian Murphy. Welcome back to the Chilmark Research Channel. I wanted to take a few moments today to talk about a topic that’s tangentially related to our upcoming report on immigration infrastructure.

But before we get started, I am as always required as a condition of employment to remind you to click “like,” click “subscribe,” and best of all, click the notifications bell. That way, you’ll find out when we post new content.

COVID vaccination season is upon us, and if you’re like myself and everyone else I know, you’re trying to figure out when and where that can happen for you. Here in Massachusetts, everyone who gets vaccinated also generates some reporting. The CDC is informed, the State Department of Public Health is informed, and the payers are informed. So the availability of those immunization records in doctors’ offices, in clinics, in hospitals is anything but an open-and-shut case.

One of health care’s least endearing aspects is the number of duplicate questions that patients have to answer in any exchange involving health care. So I think it’s going to be a fairly common question over the next 18 months whether or not you’ve had a COVID vaccine. The availability of that information in EMRs and in EHRs is going to be spotty for some time to come. It’ll be available in some places, it won’t be available in others. One aspect of our upcoming report on integration infrastructure is the lengths to which vendors are going to make things like immunization records far more available to EMRs and EHRs and other health care players than they have been in the past. So the availability of immunization records inside EHRs and EMRs; just another example of how COVID has exposed some of the deficiencies in the health care system. We can only hope that wider availability of this kind of information inside of EMRs and EHRs can let patients off the hook a little bit in terms of repetitive questioning. So while everyone is chomping at the bit to get their vaccines–and who can blame them at this point–you can rest assured that the state, public health departments and the CDC are on the case in terms of collecting the data. And now all we’ve got to do is make sure that other people in the health care system get access to it as well.

Thank you very much for watching.


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