Welcome to the Vaccines and Immunizations website.
Skip directly to the search box, site navigation, or content.

Department of Health and Human Services
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Vaccines & Immunizations

Programs & Tools:

IIS: Frequently Asked Questions

Question and Answer image

General Questions & Answers

What are Immunization Information Systems?

Immunization Information Systems are confidential, population-based, computerized information systems that attempt to collect vaccination data about all children within a geographic area. IIS are an important tool to increase and sustain high vaccination coverage by consolidating vaccination records of children from multiple providers, generating reminder and recall vaccination notices for each child, and providing official vaccination forms and vaccination coverage assessments. One of the national health objectives for 2010 is to increase to 95% the proportion of children aged <6 years who participate in fully operational population-based IIS.

A "fully operational" IIS includes 95% enrollment or higher of all catchment area children less than 6 years of age with 2 or more immunization encounters administered according to ACIP recommendations.

In a population-based IIS, children are entered into the IIS at birth, often through a linkage with electronic birth records. An IIS record also can be initiated by a health care provider at the time of a child's first immunization. If an IIS includes all children in a given geographical area and all providers are reporting immunization information, it can provide a single data source for all community immunization partners. Such a population-based IIS can make it easier to carry out the demonstrably effective immunization strategies (e.g., reminder/recall, AFIX, and WIC linkages) and thereby decrease the resources needed to achieve and maintain high levels of coverage. IIS also can be used to enhance adult immunization services and coverage.

The concept of IIS is not new. Many individual practices and health plans administer immunizations to their patients. Records of these immunizations often are based on computerized information systems designed for other purposes such as billing. There also is a growing movement toward the development of totally computerized patient medical records. Although an IIS includes all immunizations administered by health care providers participating in it, only population-based IIS are capable of providing information on all children and all doses of vaccines administered by all providers. More...

top of page

Questions from Providers

  1. How is a child's immunization record and information protected?

    IIS users must be authorized to have access to data stored in an IIS. Users must sign an agreement and follow strict confidentiality and security policies. Protection of IIS data is managed through state privacy, confidentiality, and security laws and through compliance with federal privacy rules and regulations.

    Some important factors that have helped facilitate IIS development are as follows.

    • Laws specifically authorizing the Department of Health to establish and maintain an immunization registry. Some laws require reporting to the registry; other laws allow reporting. Both types of laws may address liability concerns.
    • Statutory provisions providing immunities from civil and/or criminal liability for providers who make good faith disclosures to immunization registries or rely on information in immunization registries.
    • Other important statutory provisions include:
      • penalties for improper disclosure of information;
      • provisions defining with whom immunization information can be shared (e.g., providers, schools, health department); and
      • provisions allowing parents to opt out or limit access to immunization registry information. While opt out and consent provisions are particularly important to some religious groups, victims of domestic violence, and others, in fact only a small percentage of people exercise these options.
  2. What will an IIS do for my practice?

    An IIS will:
    • reduce your paperwork and save staff time;
    • consolidate immunizations from all providers into one record;
    • provide easy access and reliable immunization histories for any child, (new or current patients), even if immunizations were received at a public health clinic;
    • provide information on immunizations, due or overdue;
    • provide patient reminders and recalls for immunizations, due or overdue;
    • provide your patients' immunizations directly on an official school immunization record card, so that parents can enroll their children in school;
    • reduce the number of phone calls you make to schools and day care centers during registration;
    • facilitate introduction of new vaccines or changes in the vaccine schedule;
    • help you manage vaccine inventories;
    • help you determine what proportion of children in your practice have been adequately immunized;
    • help with HEDIS data collection for managed-care organizations; and
    • reinforce the concept of the medical home.

    The IIS simplifies immunization record keeping, provides quicker access to immunization records, and helps you keep track of a patient's immunization status. If a parent calls you for their child's immunization history, you can provide them with this service by a touch of a button. For journal articles documenting IIS effectiveness, visit our Publications & Resources page.

  3. How do I participate in the IIS in my state?

    If you are interested in participating in the IIS, contact the IIS in your state.

  4. Can the IIS exchange data with Electronic Medical Records (EMR)?

    IIS have capacity to electronically exchange data with the clinical systems including electronic medical records. The capacity and direction of this exchange depends on the technical capacity of the electronic medical record system and the IIS. Many state and local IIS use the industry standard Health Level 7 (HL7) protocol to exchange this type of patient's immunization information.

  5. What type of equipment do I need to electronically link with the IIS?

    Exchanging immunization information with IIS can be done in a variety of different ways. IIS typically require some form of internet access which may involve a dial up access or high speed access. The computer application used in the practice should have the ability to create an interface file that conforms to a standard exchange format. Depending on the type of clinical application and the clinical workflow the IIS may be accessible directly from within the clinical application. Additional software requirements may be necessary for authentication, encryption and sending the file to the IIS. IIS and clinical applications are encouraged to find solutions to reduce the burden of multiple data entry.

top of page

Questions & Answers for Parents

  1. What are Immunization Information Systems?

    Also known as Immunization Registries, Immunization Information Systems (IIS) are computer systems that have information on the shots that were given to your child. Some IIS can remind you or your doctor of the next shot due to keep your child up-to-date with their immunizations.

  2. Why do Immunization Information Systems exist?

    The purpose of the IIS is to make sure that children have all of their immunizations and that the information is there when your doctor needs it. All of the immunizations given are based on a schedule that tells providers when certain shots should be given. The immunization schedule is confusing and sometimes changes. An IIS helps doctors decide which shots should be given to your child and when.

  3. Why should I enroll my child in IIS?

    An IIS:

    • Helps make sure that your child doesn't miss any shots or get too many shots.
    • Assists in reminding you by mail or telephone when your child need shots.
    • Allows you to get a copy of your child's shot record from the doctor quickly.
    • Makes sure your child has all of the shots needed to start child care or school.
  4. What information is in an IIS?

    Information in an IIS is different in every state, but most contain at least the following information: patient name (first, middle, and last); patient birth date; patient sex; patient birth state/country; mother's name; the types and dates of vaccines given; and the date the shot was given.

  5. How is my child's immunization record and information protected?

    State law requires that information in the IIS be kept confidential. Only you, your doctor, or healthcare workers who can assist you have access to the information. The information will not be shared with any other people or any other agency. If you are not interested in having your child in the IIS, all you would need to do is contact your state IIS and request to "opt-out" of the registry. Locate the IIS contact for your state.

  6. Who do I contact to see if my child is in an IIS or if I want a copy of my child's immunization record?

    CDC does not have immunization record information on children. You must contact your provider, or local or state immunization program.

  7. What happens to my child's immunization record when I move to another state?

    Inform your doctor's office that you are moving to another state. They will let the IIS know that you are moving. But first, get a copy of your child's shot record from your doctor before you move and give this record to your new doctor. If your new doctor participates in the state IIS, your child's immunization history will be entered into the system.

  8. How much does it cost to participate in my State's IIS?

    There is no cost to a patient to participate in an IIS.

  9. How can I find out if my child's doctor is participating in the IIS?

    Just ask your doctor if they use the IIS. You can also contact the IIS in your area to find out if your doctor participates.

For general immunization-related questions you also may contact the CDC Information Contact Center at 1-800-CDC-INFO (1-800-232-4636).

top of page

Q&As Providers ask about IIS


top of page

 Return to main IIS page

This page last modified on July 21, 2008
Content last reviewed on May 24, 2007
Content Source: National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases

Quick Links

IIS Registry logo

Safer Healthier People

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1600 Clifton Rd, Atlanta, GA 30333, U.S.A
Public Inquiries: 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); 1-888-232-6348 (TTY)

Vaccines and Immunizations