Evaluating Washington State’s Immunization Information System as a Research Tool



      Immunization information systems (IISs) are powerful public health tools for vaccination activities. To date, however, their use for public health research has been limited, in part as a result of insufficient understanding on accuracy and quality of IIS data. We evaluated the completeness and accuracy of Washington State IIS (WAIIS) data, with particular attention to data elements of research interest.


      We analyzed all WAIIS records on all children born between 2006 and 2010 with at least 1 vaccination recorded in WAIIS between 2006 and 2010. We assessed all variables for completeness and tested selected variables for internal validity. To assess external validity, we matched WAIIS data to records from Group Health, a large integrated health care organization in Washington State. On these children, we compared vaccination data in WAIIS with vaccination data from Group Health’s immunization registry.


      The WAIIS data included 486,265 children and 8,670,234 unique vaccinations. Variables required by WAIIS (such as date of vaccination) were highly complete, but optional variables were often missing. For example, most records were missing data on route (80.7%) and anatomic site (81.7%) of vaccination. WAIIS data, when complete, were highly accurate relative to the Group Health immunization registry, with 96% to 99% agreement between fields such as vaccination code and anatomic site.


      Required data elements in WAIIS are highly complete and have both internal and external validity, suggesting that these variables are useful for research. Research requiring nonrequired variables should use additional validity checks before proceeding.


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