HHS Gives $20 Million to Expand COVID-19 Vaccine Information Sharing

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has made $20 million readily available to make data sharing between health information exchanges (HIEs) and immunization information systems better.

The funding was from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) fund that President Trump signed on March 27, 2020 to help vaccination initiatives to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The funds expand the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC)’s Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange (STAR HIE) Program and can support communities in their health information sharing regarding COVID-19 vaccinations.

Public health agencies could get extra help to monitor and recognize persons who have not yet gotten a second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The extra money will help physicians identify and get in touch with high-risk individuals who have not acquired their first vaccination.

The added investment will be allocated countrywide and will be utilized to support communities that have been hit hard by COVID-19. The HHS will additionally be giving funding to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) as well as the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) to boost HIE immunization collaborations.

These CARES Act funds are going to help doctors better get access to information of their patients from their community immunization registries by utilizing the sources of their local health information exchanges. Using this collaborative work, public health departments and physicians will be ready to more effectively give immunizations to at-risk patients, fully grasp undesirable events, and better monitor long lasting health outcomes as more Americans receive immunizations.

The success of vaccination programs depends on properly identifying patients and making sure patients get two doses of the appropriate vaccine. That means hospitals, pharmacists, and public health authorities must have access to patient information and vaccine data. Good data exchange and patient matching can likewise help to provide insights into the efficiency of the vaccines and monitoring long term health outcomes. STAR HIE has plans to present statistics to determine vaccination outcomes.

There are roughly 100 HIEs in the US which reach about 92% of Americans. There are 63 immunization information systems in the United States, one for each state, 8 in territories, and five in cities. The immunization information systems have funds, partly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD).