Measuring the Success of the US COVID-19 Vaccine Campaign

It's Time to Invest in and Strengthen Immunization Information Systems

Jade Benjamin-Chung, PhD, MPH; Arthur Reingold, MD


Am J Public Health. 2021;111(6):1078-1080. 

The COVID-19 Data Lake

Operation Warp Speed's data lake is managed federally, but it relies on state and local IISs to collect data. IISs, on the other hand, are managed by the very people who are responsible for administering vaccines and have thus established relationships with vaccine providers. Perhaps the most controversial aspect of the data lake is the plan for inclusion of identifiers (name, sex, date of birth, address, and race/ethnicity) of vaccine recipients. Identifiers are typically stored in IISs and are not reported to federal organizations. Trump Administration officials stated that identifiers are required to coordinate the administration of multidose vaccines, estimate vaccination coverage, and monitor adverse reactions, but these are standard functions of IISs. Concerns about how identifiers may be used by the federal government (e.g., to deport people) could undermine public trust and threaten the vaccine program's success. The Biden Administration's 200-page national strategy for COVID-19 response includes a goal to modernize data collection and reporting to guide pandemic response, but it does not explicitly mention IISs.