Providers urged to keep ACIR up to date
The Australian Childhood Immunisation Register (ACIR) was established by Medicare in January 1996 as a repository of immunisation records that detail the vaccinations given to children up to the age of 7.
The register's establishment recognised the importance of maintaining accurate immunisation data.
Linked to Medicare, ACIR now provides:
- infinite, electronic storage of individual vaccine records
- data used to estimate vaccination coverage at both state and federal levels
- vaccination data used to determine eligibility for government financial assistance schemes such as Family Tax Benefit part A, Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate.
In ACIR's early years, most GPs entered data on to the register manually.
To help GPs meet the labour costs arising from updating the register regularly, the Commonwealth provided an incentive payment of $6 per ACIR vaccine entry. Though most practices now enter their vaccination records electronically, the $6 ACIR update incentive payment remains in place.
Despite commitment from vaccination providers to keep children up to date with their scheduled vaccines, Western Australia continues to have the lowest vaccination coverage rates in the country. Maintaining accurate records on ACIR is vital.
Failure to provide timely updates will skew WA's coverage rates.
Post code specific coverage can be particularly distorted, especially in areas where it can take only a small number of incomplete records to significantly lower the area's vaccination performance.
Incomplete ACIR records may also prevent families from receiving government benefits. Guardians of children who are falsely listed as not being fully vaccinated on ACIR are required to contact their vaccination provider for the records to be updated. This process can take time and cause needless distress to financially burdened parents.
Providers are urged to maintain the integrity of ACIR by ensuring all vaccinations are entered promptly on to the register.