Background: Vaccination registries have undoubtedly proven useful for estimating vaccination coverage as well as examining vaccine safety and effectiveness. However, their use for population health research is often limited. The Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) Vaccination Registry for the Canadian province of Québec comprises some 4 million vaccination records (1926-1992). This registry represents a unique opportunity to study potential associations between BCG vaccination and various health outcomes. So far, such studies have been hampered by the absence of a computerized version of the registry. We determined the completeness and accuracy of the recently computerized BCG Vaccination Registry, as well as examined its linkability with demographic and administrative medical databases.
Methods: Two systematically selected verification samples, each representing ~0.1% of the registry, were used to ascertain accuracy and completeness of the electronic BCG Vaccination Registry. Agreement between the paper [listings (n = 4,987 records) and vaccination certificates (n = 4,709 records)] and electronic formats was determined along several nominal and BCG-related variables. Linkage feasibility with the Birth Registry (probabilistic approach) and provincial Healthcare Registration File (deterministic approach) was examined using nominal identifiers for a random sample of 3,500 individuals born from 1961 to 1974 and BCG vaccinated between 1970 and 1974.
Results: Exact agreement was observed for 99.6% and 81.5% of records upon comparing, respectively, the paper listings and vaccination certificates to their corresponding computerized records. The proportion of successful linkage was 77% with the Birth Registry, 70% with the Healthcare Registration File, 57% with both, and varied by birth year.
Conclusions: Computerization of this Registry yielded excellent results. The registry was complete and accurate, and linkage with administrative databases was highly feasible. This study represents the first step towards assembling large scale population-based epidemiological studies which will enable filling important knowledge gaps on the potential health effects of early life non-specific stimulation of the immune function, as resulting from BCG vaccination.