DHB to DOD: Standardize immunization records

The effort to standardize records across the Military Health System appears to be lagging somewhat.

The Defense Health Board has recommended that the Defense Department expand its efforts to standardize computerized recordkeeping of vaccines administered to everyone covered by the Military Health System.

Board members discussed the recommendation at a meeting in Washington in early September. DHB is a federal advisory committee to the secretary of Defense, the military surgeons general and the assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs.

Substantial progress had been made in automated immunization recordkeeping, said Dr. Gregory Poland, DHB’s president and a professor of medicine at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

But the effort to standardize records across the armed services and at different types of facilities appears to be lagging. “We did note some areas for work that needed to be done,” Poland said. They include the Navy’s shipboard system, the ability to the status of track family members and retirees, and the ability to exchange immunization records electronically.

DOD also needs to improve its ability “to give retirees and separated personnel access to their immunization records, which is an issue when they then go into the civilian health sector," Poland added.

DHB recommended that each of the armed services measure and report on immunization rates. “This is a really key indicator of medical care delivery and force readiness,” Poland said.

“Some progress had been made here,” he added. “Immunization rates as indicators of troop readiness were for the most part available and tracked, but there still needed to be work on immunization rates of communities based on age or underlying risk factors that would call for a certain vaccine.”

DOD regulations require that at least 75 percent of military personnel be rated as fully medically ready, which includes having received all required immunizations. Service members are given a series of immunizations depending on their individual circumstances.

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