Canadian expert calls for national immuinzation registry

Debra Lynkowski, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Public Health Association, is hopeful that when Canada renews its Health Accord in 2014, its provisions will include the creation of a national immunization registry.

"Improvements stemming from a national immunization strategy would include harmonization of childhood immunization schedules across the country, aligned introduction of new vaccines, and equal access to vaccines across all provinces and territories,” Lynkowski said. “The systematic collection of immunization data in a national immunization registry will modernize the way jurisdictions communicate patients' immunization histories and help to ensure coverage rates are high enough throughout the country to best protect Canadians.”

Lynkowski is looking to Canadian public health officials to lead the campaign. She hopes national unity will guide the process.

"Unfortunately, our typically Canadian response to broader immunization issues has resulted in a patchwork of approaches across the country," Lynkowski said. "Now, as we approach the renewal of the Health Accord in 2014, is the time for a harmonized, national immunization registry."

She also stressed the equitable nature of such a system.

“While we recognize additional funding may seem an improbable request of governments in the current fiscal environment, a national immunization strategy that includes at its core a national registry, one supported by all provinces and territories, would ensure Canadians are equitably protected against vaccine-preventable illnesses, regardless of where they live, their age or their socio-economic status," Lynkowski said. "All Canadians should have equal access to immunizations for vaccine-preventable diseases. Where you live should have no bearing on access to immunization programs.”

Linkowski said that a national registry would boost general coverage and close gaps in the current system.