Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center
CEO Minute: Keeping Track of Immunizations

CEO Minute: Keeping Track of Immunizations

CEO Minute: Keeping Track of Immunizations- image0As we all know, school will be starting soon.  Many people are looking to us for immunizations and we are pleased to serve them.  And it is not just children —adults need vaccines, too.  I remember when our younger son started college about three years ago, he was required to have a meningococcal vaccine since he would be living in a dorm his freshman year.

When I was a boy, my mother had a little book in which she would dutifully write down all of the immunizations that Dr. Lusk or his nurse would give me.  As a youth, I did not care for shots.  It is my understanding from nurses in Pediatrics that children still dislike shots.  Some things do not change — but record keeping certainly has changed.  That little book has been replaced, in Texas at least, by an electronic database administered by the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) called ImmTrac.  It is a secure and confidential opt-in registry that stores immunization records electronically in one database for Texans of all ages at no charge. Now, when we give an immunization at Texas Tech Physicians, we enter it in ImmTrac (unless the parents say no).

ImmTrac is valuable in providing quick access to immunization records, including any immunization that patients might have received from any provider at any time. So, if a family lived in Houston before moving to Lubbock and received some of the children’s immunization shots there and some here — that is not a problem, as far as reviewing and recording immunization history. ImmTrac is helpful in many situations — for example, when someone needs an immunization record for college entrance, military enlistment, travel, employment in health and safety fields, and many other instances, including when records are lost by fire or flooding. However, a record is only as good as its data and if ImmTrac is not kept up to date, then, of course, the record is not accurate.

Texas Tech Physicians use ImmTrac to check a patient’s immunization history and  ensure that they are fully protected against vaccine-preventable diseases without paying for, or receiving, unnecessary immunizations. There are some rules to follow.  For example, to register a child age 17 or younger in ImmTrac, it is necessary to sign a one-time minor consent authorization form that’s valid until a child turns 18. An adult consent form is required for people age 18 and older. If you are interested or if you have a need for this service, go to the DSHS website, www.immtrac.com and read about it.

I have also become aware of a website where you can find out about 37 critical vaccinations, including several that need to be delivered on a schedule. Check it out at www.dshs.state.tx.us/immunize/schedule/default.shtm. The site has schedules for adults and children.