Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski (R) has proposed spending about $7.2 million to boost current public health programs and add new ones, including an electronic registry that would track people's vaccination history.
Public health officials argue the database would help parents and doctors keep better track of residents' immunization histories, but some consumer agencies in other states worry such registries will breach individual privacy.
Today, children in Alaska often get their immunizations at multiple clinics, and their parents are left to hold on to paper vaccine records. An electronic registry would allow authorized doctors, nurses and other health officials to track each child's shots and when they were given, no matter where in Alaska the child received them. Dr. Jay Butler, the state's chief epidemiologist, said the electronic registry also could be used to monitor adults' shots.
Such registries would prevent people from getting unnecessary, costly vaccines if they'd already received them but had no paper record, state health officials said. During a public health emergency that required communitywide vaccination, an electronic registry would allow health care providers to find out who's already been vaccinated and who still needs a shot, Butler said.
Still, Twila Brase, a nurse and leader of a citizen's health care council in Minnesota, told Knight-Ridder news service that she worried such registries could threaten individual privacy: "Our concern is that this will not stay an immunization registry, but what it will do is start to create state and federal healthcare databases on citizens."
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