Whooping cough outbreak highlights need for vaccine registry in N.B.

MONCTON – With the whooping cough outbreak, public health is asking everyone to check their vaccine status.

But that can be difficult in the province, due to the fact there is no single spot for patients to consult.

The New Brunswick College of Family Physicians has been calling on the province to create a vaccine registry for many years.

Dr. Ghislain Lavoie, a doctor in Dieppe, who is also on the college’s board told Global News it can take a lot of legwork for patients to get the information they need.

“Often times they have to call public health for all the vaccines that they have received at school,” he said. “They have to call their family physicians, because we have our own files on that.”

And he added that if they went to other clinics, they would have to contact each one individually.

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Dr. Lavoie said with the whooping cough outbreak he is seeing more and more patients coming in and asking ‘when was my last shot?’

He said if they can’t find the answer, doctors are often vaccinating anyway, to be safe, but this could be adding unnecessary costs to the healthcare system, if the patient was already protected.

“With the registry, we could actually see ‘oh, you were vaccinated two, three years ago, you don’t need another one,'” he said.

During an update on the whooping cough outbreak Thursday morning, Dr. Yves Leger, the regional medical officer of health for southeastern New Brunswick, agreed that the registry would be helpful in managing the outbreak.

“[It would] definitely assist in providing us better data on vaccine coverage, so in terms of who has had vaccine, which different age groups and so on,” he said, and also added it would help with vaccine supply.

New Brunswick is part of the national vaccine supply and procurement program, so they work with other provinces when it comes to purchasing vaccines. Having an accurate number of people vaccinated, would help the province understand exactly how many vaccines they need.

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Health Minister Victor Boudreau was not available for an interview Thursday, but he wrote a letter to the New Brunswick College of Family Physicians on January 28.

In it, he said the government supports a national immunization registry and is working with the Canadian Immunizaton Committee, Vaccine Supply Working group, and the Canadian Nurses Coalition on Immunizaton.

He said the department “has completed an analysis of the current electronic immunization documentation system and is exploring options to replace and further expand the system’s current functions to ensure that all immunization providers can record vaccines administered in the province.”

There has been no timeline set out for that yet.


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