Purpose-driven data collection in the COVID-19 era

In creating not just one, but multiple, vaccines for the SARS-CoV-2 virus in under a year, pharmaceutical researchers and developers achieved a remarkable feat. But there’s still a challenge ahead: distributing and administering the vaccine across the country, while also managing a flood of inoculation data.
Vaccine Rollout

The COVID-19 vaccination rollout has progressed at a rapid pace, with over 150 million doses administered since December. While this is indeed welcome news, it is generating an equally unprecedented amount of data. If not handled correctly, this influx could soon turn into a data management overload.

Vaccination data is needed to serve a variety of purposes – like tracking doses; monitoring outreach efforts; maintaining reporting requirements; and providing proof of inoculation. However, without a purpose-driven data collection strategy, information systems could become overwhelmed and lose meaningful insights.

Because the United States does not have a centralized, authoritative vaccine database, the country is relying on data being reported to each state to track the rollout’s progress. Unfortunately, states vary in their reporting requirements. For instance, some states report little to no information about demographic metrics such as ethnicity or race. This means there is no easy way to know whether vaccines are reaching the most vulnerable populations – who are disproportionally people of color – in these regions. Ensuring this data is collected is essential to the goal of a fair and equitable vaccine distribution.

In addition, vaccine administration sites are reporting to statewide vaccine databases – known as immunization information systems (IISs) – that were not designed to provide quick and easy access to individual vaccination records. Furthermore, they are notorious for their siloed nature and lack support for interoperability in healthcare.

This is concerning, because a safe and successful reopening of schools, offices, and other industries will hinge on the ability to provide individuals with a secure, authoritative record of their vaccinations. And, while the CDC is providing every vaccine recipient with a paper card that should be filled out upon receipt of a vaccine dose, this system is imperfect. For starters, it only contains a minimum amount of information – like the patient’s name, date of birth, vaccine type, and date and place of administration. Furthermore, the card is not linked to an authoritative patient record, and therefore cannot be independently verified. This leaves them open to fraud, as they can be easily forged, copied, or lost.

To address this, initiatives such as the Vaccine Credential Initiative (VCI) are underway. Their goal is to create a certified credential, or passport, that is linked to an authoritative source that could provide proof of immunization status. Their success, however, depends upon the ability to access complete and accurate information that includes details such as whether a patient has been fully vaccinated or if they have only received their first dose.

In our latest white paper, we discuss why it is necessary to have a purpose-driven approach when it comes to collecting and reporting COVID-19 vaccination data. By doing so, healthcare data analytics can be better managed and transformed to serve a variety of purposes – including global monitoring of the vaccination campaign and maintenance of accurate and easily accessible vaccination records – to help further the vaccination rollout and reopen sectors of the economy safely.

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