A new web tool and Maryland law have combined to provide easier access to immunization records for adults and their children, providing what local health officials are calling a straightforward way to access and print local shot records.
The Maryland Department of Health has launched MD.MyIR.net, a web portal that allows people to access immunizations in the state’s ImmuNet, which is where providers log immunization records.
“If people create an account, adults can create an account for themselves and for their dependents under the age of 18,” said Dr. Henry Taylor, deputy health officer at the Carroll County Health Department. “For example, I can’t add my wife to my account, she’s not under 18. But you can do it for your kids, and if you do that, then it will print a record for you and your kids’ shots that you can take to the school.”
And that’s the important thing about the new system, said Maria Carr, maternal child health nursing program supervisor at the Carroll County Health Department — the convenience it will provide parents.
“School is always requiring immunization records for registration, and a lot of times families will have to go to the doctor’s office and try to get them to print them out,” she said. “This way they can do it from home.”
It will also benefit adults in some cases, Taylor said, such as those who require vaccinations for work.
“The main target groups are kids for school, people who are traveling out of country who need a copy of their shot record or for health care personnel,” he said. “We have had a push to verify everyone’s measles vaccination status.”
The people who might benefit the most from the system are new parents or parents to be, per Taylor and Carr, as a new law effective Oct. 1 means all vaccinations after that date will be logged and accessible — though only to providers and patients after secure log in — through this system.
“Every time a doctor gives a shot now, they will have to put it into this ImmuNet system,” Carr said. “Prior to Oct. 1, it was basically each physician with their own electronic health record. The only time that it was required to be uploaded into this ImmuNet database was if the client had, say, Maryland medical assistance.”
What will require a little more time to work out are records for children — and older adults — who might have received vaccinations prior to Oct. 1. Unless their provider voluntarily uploaded records to ImmuNet, they will have to ask their providers to do so on a patient-by-patient basis to ensure records accessible through the MD.MyIR.net web portal are truly up to date.
For anyone who has received a vaccination at the Carroll County Health Department and was given their vaccination history, it might already have been uploaded into the ImmuNet database, according to Taylor.
“One thing we do when a child comes in for their back-to-school shots, we will take their shot record and we have been putting it into ImmuNet,” he said. “It’s something our staff had already been doing and now we can do it electronically.”
Only providers are able to edit or upload entries to the database, according to Carr, but efforts are being made to get ImmuNet and the individual physician’s offices’ electronic health record systems to speak to one another.
“Once you have all the physicians on board, different providers doing it, it should make things so much easier to be able to find out,” she said. “Currently the school nurses, they may have to call a doctor’s office and say, ‘I’m seeing a missing vaccination.’”
And the next chance to log some shots? The Health Department will be hosting free flu vaccination clinics for children from six months through 18 years old from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Oct. 30 and Nov. 13, at its 290 S. Center St. location in Westminster.