While the world was focused on COVID-19, vaccinations for other diseases experienced their biggest sustained drop in decades. Vaccinations among children for tetanus and diphtheria, for example, plummeted five percentage points between 2019 and 2021, according to the World Health Organization.
To offer a single big-picture look at the state of the vaccination union, GSK and IQVIA have launched Vaccine Track. The goal is to provide a single transparent clearinghouse for all types of vaccinations as well as quarterly vaccination data to help public health officials and medical professionals better track routine immunizations.
“Our goal… is to support the return to pre-pandemic vaccination rates for adults and to go beyond by empowering the vaccine and public health community with frequently updated, actionable information to get ahead of disease together,” Judy Stewart, SVP and head of U.S. vaccines at GSK, said in a statement.
The effort comes after the pandemic exposed issues with data gathering and monitoring in the U.S. public health infrastructure, with information from states on cases and vaccination rates lagging. That led to criticism and, ultimately, prompted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to acknowledge that it needed to modernize its data systems.
While routine immunizations are a different animal than the COVID-19 effort, it’s not the first time that the private sector has attempted to buttress the public health system.
“Anything that makes the information more accessible, more real-time and more up-to-date is going to be beneficial,” said Dr. Amesh Adalja, assistant professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. “There are state registries from which the CDC can estimate vaccination numbers, but this can augment that process and help us understand where the gaps are as well as focus efforts to erase those gaps.”
Vaccine Track will gather and monitor medical claims data and longitudinal prescription data across multiple vaccines among people aged 19 and older. It will also monitor trends in vaccination rates and hone in on differences related to age, race, ethnicity and gender. GSK and IQVIA currently have information from January 2019 to December 2021.
So far, the platform has revealed that U.S. immunization rates lag the pre-pandemic status quo, with an 18% drop through the end of 2021. That was particularly true among minority populations, with Medicare data showing a 30% decrease in vaccines among Black and Hispanic people from 2019 to 2021.
“You could imagine if there are issues with getting vaccine information to CDC, multiple streams of data will help get a more real-time picture of it,” Adalja said. “It would be worth comparing the CDC’s monitoring of state immunization registries to this. We’re going to have to see what role this plays in public health.”