Two House lawmakers introduced legislation Thursday that seeks $400 million to provide training in long-term care facilities and facilitate data-sharing between states and the federal government to hasten the nationwide COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The Immunization Infrastructure Modernization Act, introduced by Reps. Annie Kuster (D-NH) and Larry Bucshon, M.D. (R-IN), would provide grants to health departments and states to modernize information systems. They said the goal is to expand real-time vaccination data-sharing and reporting between states, federal agencies and healthcare providers; assess technology gaps; and improve data privacy.
The act also would expand training of immunization providers, including long-term care facilities and organizations serving older adults, pharmacies, specialty healthcare providers, health centers, homeless shelters and prisons.
Kuster said more needs to be done to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines. Immunization information systems can allow providers to keep vaccines and supplies in stock, send vaccine reminders, and identify areas with low vaccination rates.
“This requires coordinated, strategic leadership from the federal government,” she said.
Bucshon said that a “clear and efficient understanding” of local vaccination efforts is necessary to reopen the economy and defeat the virus.
“As the vaccine rollout continues, immunization data systems will be a critical tool in the success of this effort, and they are in need of modernization,” he said. “This legislation will improve, enhance and expand the ability of immunization information systems to securely exchange real-time immunization record data while securely protecting personal patient information.”