Background: Immunization information systems (IISs) are electronic registries used to monitor individual vaccination status and assess vaccine coverage. IISs are currently not widely used across Canada, where health jurisdictions employ a range of approaches to capture influenza immunization information. Conducted in advance of the 2009 H1N1 vaccination campaign, the objectives of this study were to understand the perceived value of individual-level data and IISs for influenza control, identify ideal system functions, and explore barriers to implementation.
Methods: In July and August 2009, semi-structured interviews were conducted with key informants engaged in vaccine delivery and/or pandemic planning at regional, provincial/territorial and federal levels across Canada. Key informants were recruited using a combination of convenience and snowball sampling methodologies. Qualitative analysis was used to extract themes from interview content.
Results: Patient management, assessment of vaccine coverage, and evaluation of safety and effectiveness were identified as public health priorities that would be achieved in a more timely manner, and with greater accuracy, through the use of an IIS. Features described as ideal included system flexibility, rapid data entry, and universality. Financial and human resource constraints as well as coordination between immunization providers were expressed as barriers to implementation.
Conclusions: IISs were perceived as valuable by key informants for strengthening management capacity and improving evaluation of both seasonal and pandemic influenza vaccination campaigns. However, certain implementation restrictions may need to be overcome for these benefits to be achieved.