16 August 2020
By Tom Collins
The introduction of a National Immunisation Register could lead to better disease prevention and control, Fine Gael TD Colm Burke has said.
Deputy Burke said, “Covid-19 has changed how healthcare is delivered in all parts of the world due to the requirement to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of disease.
“GPs have changed how they deliver patient care by providing assessments over the telephone and through the use of video technology, and while the pandemic has been challenging for all parts of society and our economy, there is an opportunity to build on the technological advancements we have seen in regard to the delivery of healthcare.
“Digital health services can empower patients in accessing their own medical records and manage their care, and provide more services in patients homes and the community.
“With regard to screening and immunisation, the Programme for Government proposes to examine the possibility of introducing a national immunisation register.
“At present, Ireland has no national database for immunisation records and the public must contact their local health office to request a copy of their records.
“However, a national immunisation register is a centralised database of the vaccines that people have been given, which has a number of benefits for both patients and healthcare providers.
“In Australia for example, vaccination providers can see a patient’s record on the register unless the patient chooses not to share it and lets the patient track the immunisations they have had.
“If a patient chooses not to share their immunisation history, a GP will be unable to see it and this can be controlled easily by the patient. Parents are also sent reminder letters for their children if they are overdue the vaccinations they require.
“These registers are said to offer assistance to healthcare providers in maintaining accurate records and a better delivery of immunisation programmes, as well as facilitating patient follow-ups.
“The introduction of a national immunisation register here could be hugely beneficial in promoting more effective disease prevention and control.
“It is something that I would greatly welcome, and work could be done to ensure that it is implemented in a way that is compliant with data protection requirements and patient consent,” Deputy Burke concluded.