Senate Health and Human Services Committee
Testimony on Senate Bill 346
March 3, 2009
Presented by the Texas Medical Association, Texas Pediatric Society, and Texas Academy of Family Physicians
Madame Chair and members of the Committee, it is a privilege for me to speak with you today on behalf of the Texas Medical Association, the Texas Pediatric Society (TPS), and the Texas Academy of Family Physicians, collectively representing more than 48,000 physicians in the state of Texas. My name is Jason Terk, MD, and I am a pediatrician in private practice in Keller. I currently serve as chair of the TPS Legislative Committee in addition to other leadership positions within these organizations.
I am here today in support of Senate Bill 346, relating to information submitted to and maintained in the immunization registry after an individual becomes an adult. Improving immunization rates continues to be one of our top priorities. Although in 2007 Texas ranked 22 in the nation in our vaccination rates ― a great improvement over past rankings ― there is still much work to be done and we must remain vigilant.
ImmTrac, the state's immunization registry, currently maintains immunization data for children until the age of 18. The registry is a key tool in helping Texas increase immunization coverage rates among children because it provides timely access to a child's immunization history. However, no mechanism such as ImmTrac currently exists for adults in our state.
It is important for adults to be fully vaccinated. In five years, from 2000 to 2005, we have seen 6,260 cases of pertussis (whopping cough) and 28 deaths in Texas. Disease surveillance has shown us that at least one of these infant deaths occurred because an adult was coughing while in the delivery room.
An adult registry would allow a new mother or father, as well as any grandparents or other direct caregivers, to request that their pertussis boosters be housed in the state's registry. Such information is critical when mom enters the hospital to have her second or third baby. Providing this tool to all adults helps protect children and adults from preventable disease.
Additionally, an adult registry would allow easy access to immunization records for adults wishing to enter graduate education programs or who hope to study or travel abroad. How many of us can confidently say that we know exactly where our immunization record is and whether or not we are up-to-date on our recommended vaccinations? Not only would an adult registry allow Texans to keep up with their immunization records, it also would keep adults from receiving unnecessary vaccines when their records cannot be located, which saves the patient and state money.
In closing, the physicians of the state thank you for this opportunity to support SB 346, and we look forward to this next step in ensuring the health of all Texas children.