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April 23. 2014 8:52PM

Executive Council vote: Centralized immunization registry becoming a reality

CONCORD — New Hampshire is about to lose the distinction of being the only state without a centralized immunization registry, as the Executive Council on Wednesday approved a $1.3 million contract with an Arizona company to get a registry up and running.

The Legislature in 1998 ordered the creation of a “single repository of accurate, complete and current immunization records to aid, coordinate and promote effective and cost-efficient disease prevention and control efforts.” But the initiative was never funded, until the approval of the latest DHHS budget, with the registry included.

“This has been a policy decision at DHHS, but with the consent of the Legislature, because of the dollars associated with it,” said Health and Human Services Commissioner Nick Toumpas after the council’s unanimous vote.

The Bureau of Infections Disease Control will now enter into an agreement with Scientific Technologies Corp., of Scottsdale, Ariz., to get the system up and running in the next 12 months.

Information on vaccinations will be submitted to the registry by practitioners for all patients, except for those who opt out or whose guardians opt out for them.

Prior to the vote, Council or Chris Pappas, D-Manchester, said he had heard from constituents who were concerned about confidentiality and privacy protections.

Toumpas described security procedures that will be used to protect patient confidentiality. “Recognizing the type of data we are looking at, a significant number of provisions were put in to protect that data,” he said, assuring councilors that information from the registry would not be shared with pharmaceutical companies, drug manufacturers or insurance companies.

Everyone who administers vaccinations will enter information into the system, but only designated DHHS personnel would have the passwords needed to access the information on an aggregate or individual basis.

Notices will be posted at locations where vaccinations are administered, advising patients of their right to opt out of the registry. Doctors can opt out of reporting to the registry, but DHHS does not expect many to do so.

“We’re hoping close to 100 percent of our physicians will be participating,” said Marcella Bobinsky, chief of the state’s immunization program.

Massachusetts became the 49th state to adopt an online vaccination registry in 2011, leaving New Hampshire as the only state without one. Privacy concerns and funding have been the main impediments, said Toumpas.dsolomon@unionleader.com


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