State Health officials are touting a state database that’s helping keep track of immunization records. It’s called the Immunization Registry Information system or IRIS. State Public Health Department Director Mary Mincer Hansen says they recently entered the one-millionth immunization record into the system and are pushing to add even more. Hansen says the system can help if a child is taken to the emergency room for treatment. She says the mother may not always remember what immunizations her kids have had. But in the future the hospitals would be able to go in and find out for example if the child needed a tetanus shot. She says it will help create a more efficient health care system. Mincer Hansen says they want to get all health care providers in the state to participate in the system. She’s not sure how many they have left to get on board. She says it’s hard to get a handle on how many remain because there are a variety of places that give immunizations. She says they do have over 400 clinics and doctor’s offices involved. Polk County Health Department Director Terri Henkels ran a pilot project to test the system. Henkels says you can’t underestimate the value of having everyone properly vaccinated.She says, “We have to remain vigilant with our immunizations. It’s absolutely critical. It helps us control communicable disease outbreaks and that is essential to local public health.” Henkels says the system saves a lot of time when it comes to treating patients. She says they found that out when they had a measles outbreak and tried to determine if her staff had all been immunized against the disease. She says the staff in their 30’s and 40’s were not in the IRIS program and they had to make calls to their home states, they had to call parents and doctors. She says some of the doctors had retired and some had died, so it was almost impossible to track down everyone’s records. Henkels says with the IRIS system, the records are there forever and easy to access even if you move. Henkels says the system does away with the old time consuming immunization cards that had to be filled out. And they give more information to doctors. She says it also tells the history of where a person got their vaccination, so if there’s a question, then the nurse can just call and verify the information. Before IRIS, she says they’d have to call all over town looking for records, or tell a patient to go home and look for their records. The system will eventually be linked to schools too — so parents won’t have to get copies of their kids immunization records from their doctor. The school districts can just link into the system and verify that the student has all the necessary shots.
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