First Look for IIS: National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness
On January 21, 2021 the White House released the new administration’s National Strategy for the COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness. While initially it seems to be a daunting 200 page document, it is divided into three manageable sections. First, the core of the recommendations are presented in just twenty pages. If that’s all you have time to read, focus there. The document then expounds on the seven goals and related action plans in the next ninety-five or so pages. Finally, the remainder of the document is a compilation of the new Executive Orders signed by the president that support the plan.
For Immunization Information Systems (IIS), the most relevant goal of this plan is Goal Two: Mount a safe, effective, equitable vaccination campaign. Key changes for IIS include significantly reducing the hold-back for dose two, moving senior sixty-five and older into the priority group, and creating more and more types of venues for administration including a heightened role for FEMA, pharmacies, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), tribal sites, and new and innovative locations. The plan continues to assure jurisdictions that the Federal government will reimburse them for the cost of immunization, and that citizens will not incur any out of pocket costs.
Even more specifically, the plan calls for data systems to be bolstered, though it is light on specifics. There is a clear recognition that management of the pandemic will be data-driven, and that integration between systems will be streamlined, though no specific systems are named. There is recognition that cybersecurity is an issue that must be addressed. Finally, while Goal Six focuses on at-risk populations and recognizes that this starts with data, we know that clinical systems are challenged to store and provide data on race, ethnicity, occupation, and other key indicators that are needed to support these initiatives.
All in all it seems the new administration is off to a good start given that this plan was released on Day 2. Let’s hope that jurisdictions can keep up with these new challenges and activities.