States hope to improve vaccination rates in low-income families using state registries.

October 18, 2018

States hope to improve vaccination rates in low-income families using state registries.

Officials hope to address the poor vaccination rates among low-income families in a new five state project that aims to improve rates through the use of statewide registries, according to a report from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

Through the registries, officials hope they will be able to identify patients who are due for vaccines and learn more about where to target campaigns to improve immunization rates. The project, which is an effort by the CDC, will take place in Colorado, Hawaii, Kentucky, Montana and New Mexico, and will focus on children and pregnant woman who are on Medicaid, according to Pew.

Low-income families have historically had lower immunization rates. Data from the CDC, found that vaccine coverage in 2016 was lower for those children living below the federal poverty level compared with those above it, although the rates varied based on the type of vaccine. The biggest difference was seen for the rotavirus vaccine, which had a 12.7 percentage gap between the two groups, and with those who received at least four doses of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Most states already have state immunization registries in place, but the new effort will be aimed at connecting Medicaid information systems with those registries.

Officials hope that by linking these two systems they'll be able to collect more robust data in a central location and identify subgroups of the population to in an effort target vaccination efforts.

“There’s so much opportunity for information to be in too many different places and never aggregated,” Jill Rosenthal, a senior program director at the National Academy for State Health Policy told Pew.

Each state will be able to set its own priorities for how they plan to improve rates, but Rosenthal told Pew the funding would primarily be used to align Medicaid and immunization information systems. The funding from the federal government will be given to the National Academy for State Health Policy and Academy Health to work directly with states in the program.

Historically state immunization registries have had many challenges to their effective use, including providers who lack the ability to transfer records to the registry, HIPPA restrictions, and issues with getting providers to collect information.

Officials hope this new focus on using the systems to improve rates will help overcome some of those challenges and help states maximize their systems to better identify patient populations to target with future immunization efforts. Eventually, they hope to use what they learn from the effort to apply to other population groups as well, Pew reports.