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Immunity Health & Wellness

How Vaccine Status Information Is Accessed and Shared

Photo: Courtesy of Mat Napo

With COVID-19 booster shots for adults now available nationwide, keeping track of your vaccination records is extra important. But where do you turn for this information?


Rebecca Coyle

Executive Director, American Immunization Registry Association

You may be surprised to learn that your vaccination record is not kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or another federal agency. Instead, each state keeps those records. They’re stored in secure systems called immunization information systems (IISs). 

All 50 states have an IIS. So does the District of Columbia and territories like Puerto Rico and Guam. Some major population centers like New York City have their own IIS separate from their state system.

By knowing what information goes into an IIS, what an IIS is used for, and who can access the information in it, you’ll learn more about your healthcare and how to keep you and your family protected from diseases that vaccines can prevent.

What is an IIS?

An IIS, also known as an immunization registry, is a confidential, population-based, computerized database that records all immunization doses administered by participating providers to people who live in a certain geographic area. 

Why keep vaccination records in an IIS?

Providers administer vaccines at specific times in people’s lives, so each person’s vaccination record is unique to them. It depends on factors such as age, underlying health conditions, and the type of vaccine. 

For example, while people eligible for a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 booster can get one six months after their second dose, eligible people who received a Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine may receive a booster two months after their initial dose.

An IIS informs providers of which vaccinations you already have. That way, they can make sure you get the correct vaccines at the right times. It is especially important for providers to have this information for infants and children who receive many vaccines to protect them from diseases like hepatitis B, tetanus, measles, mumps, and rubella. It’s also important during outbreaks and pandemics, as IISs can be used to expedite the vaccine response.

What information is stored in an IIS? 

Most IISs include patient name, birth date, sex, birth state/country, along with the types and dates of vaccines given. The exact information stored in an IIS depends on the information collected by healthcare providers from patients, which can vary. 

Who can access my vaccination record? 

Your vaccination record is only available to you, your doctor, your pharmacist, and your other healthcare providers. 

How is my information protected?

An IIS is designed to protect the privacy of all users. Per CDC, each IIS must have a written privacy policy that clearly defines access, use, and disclosure of all data collected. Those who use an IIS must sign an agreement to become an authorized user. IIS users also must follow strict confidentiality and security laws that comply with federal privacy rules.

While an IIS is a valuable tool in fighting vaccine-preventable diseases, it’s only as good as the information it contains, and IISs rely on providers and their systems to share information and submit accurate data. Sharing information about you or your family’s vaccination status with your healthcare providers will help minimize the spread of avoidable health conditions.

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