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Health agency to record children's vaccinations


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POSTED: Friday, August 28, 2009

Names of children receiving vaccinations in the state's Protect Hawaii's Keiki: Stop Flu at School program will be entered immediately on a Hawaii Immunization Registry.

The Department of Health is providing the registry as a free service where doctors and nurses can store patient immunization records.

“;The registry is a secure, confidential computer system that will help ensure our children and adults receive the immunizations they need,”; said Health Director Chiyome Fukino. It will be valuable in an emergency or disaster, she said.

For example, noted Dr. Sarah Park, state epidemiologist and chief of the department's Disease Outbreak Control Division, the vaccination history for kids was available in a registry after Hurricane Katrina wiped out medical records.

Having immunization information for measles, whooping cough, hepatitis A and other diseases for which a vaccine is available avoids overvaccinating people while ensuring they have needed shots, she said.

The department is piloting the registry with some doctors and eventually will go statewide, Park said, adding, “;It's not a new idea. It has long been in existence in other states.”;

Parents will be asked for consent to put their children's information in the registry as they fill out forms for flu vaccinations in voluntary school clinics, planned for October to December.

Free vaccines will be available to kindergarten through eighth-grade students, faculty and staff of private, public and charter schools. Parents have a choice of shots or nasal spray—green consent forms for shots and yellow forms for spray.

Lt. Gov. James “;Duke”; Aiona Jr. said Hawaii is “;a national model for immunization preparedness”; and that it is more critical this year because of a higher incidence of summer seasonal flu.

This is the third year of the school vaccination program. In the first two years, about 120,000 students and 15,000 faculty and staff were immunized, Aiona said.

Park said physicians are reporting a lot of flulike illnesses. “;We're not necessarily seeing an abundance of seasonal flu, but we're looking to the fall and what could be a major problem for Hawaii.”;

Hawaii also has the novel H1N1 influenza A (swine flu), associated with six deaths since the first cases were confirmed May 5.

Health officials are concerned about having two types of flu strains circulating at the same time, each affecting different groups and putting the entire population at risk, Park aid.

“;It is an incredible health care burden,”; she said. “;We're trying to ensure that the burden of seasonal flu stops at a minimum level. It is really critical.”;

The public can help by getting seasonal flu vaccinations, practicing hygiene and staying home if ill, she said.

The department expects to receive some swine flu vaccine in mid-October and is working with state, federal and private partners on a plan to immunize groups most at risk.

Assistant Schools Superintendent Daniel Hamada urged parents to sign up their children for the immunization registry. “;In the long run it will help us track patients' immunization records”; so they are not getting unnecessary doses, he said.