Canadian immunization registry functional standards 2020 to 2024: Recommendations from the Canadian Immunization Registry and Coverage Network

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Glossary and abbreviations

Adverse event following immunization

Any untoward medical occurrence which follows vaccination and which does not necessarily have a causal relationship with the usage of the vaccine. The adverse event may be any unfavourable or unintended sign, abnormal laboratory finding, symptom or disease.

Eligible (dose)

The person has met the minimum age and minimum interval criteria for receipt of a valid dose of a specific vaccine, but has not yet reached the recommended age and or interval for that dose. The minimum age/interval is not recommended for routine forecasting, but once these criteria are met, vaccine doses received are considered valid doses.

Due (dose)

The person has reached the recommended interval and recommended age for receipt of the vaccine as per jurisdictional schedule, but is not yet considered to be behind schedule.

Immunization registry

A confidential, population-based, computerized information system that attempts to collect vaccination data about all persons within a geographic area.

Immunization registry user

Any person interacting with patient data contained within an immunization registry.


Interoperability is the ability of different information systems to connect within and across organizational/jurisdictional boundaries to access and exchange data.

Invalid (dose)

A dose of vaccine that didn't meet criteria to be considered a protective dose (for example, minimum age, or a vaccination error such as incorrect route or dose, expired product, or without due attention to coadministered vaccines or recommended intervals to other vaccines such as sequential doses of live vaccines).

Overdue (dose)

The person is considered to be behind schedule for receipt of a vaccine dose generally 1 month (for infants) after the jurisdictional schedule. If the vaccine is part of the school-age program, it's recommended that a person be considered overdue once the school year has ended. The overdue concept is administratively useful for specific actions that may be warranted to follow-up on unvaccinated or undocumented children (for example, reminder, recall or suspension for failure to comply with legislation or regulations).


A health care professional who has authority to administer a vaccine product in a given jurisdiction.

Reminder or recall

A method to notify clients (or guardians) who are due for a vaccination (reminder) or past due (recall).


Available as soon as possible, with no administrative delays.

Valid dose

A dose of vaccine that is administered on or after the minimum age for receipt, or minimum interval from a previous dose of this antigen and which meets all criteria to be considered protective (for example, no errors of route or dosing).

Vaccination event

Administration of a vaccine product.


Adverse event following immunization
Immunization information system
Immunization registry functional standards
National immunization data elements
Point of service


The purpose of this document is to define Canadian immunization registry functional standards (IRFS) to support a network of interconnected immunization registries in Canada. The IRFS describe the minimum standards needed by immunization registries to support immunization providers, immunization programs, Canadian consumers and other immunization stakeholders.

In order to fully support program and stakeholder immunization-related goals, the IRFS are written to reflect the functional capabilities that immunization registries should attain.

The foundational goal of immunization registry functionality is to facilitate standards-based complete, accurate, and timely capture of immunization records regardless of where a person is immunized.

The Canadian immunization program delivery model includes multiple immunization providers and therefore multiple point of service (POS) applications. Adoption of IRFS and other standards-based tools (Appendices A and B), will help ensure that immunization records (captured inside oroutside of registries) are complete and accurate. Clear data submission standards will also reduce the efforts required to consolidate records from multiple sources within the immunization registry.

To be successful, the IRFS must support the capture of immunization information at the point of service and have the ability to share this information with other electronic immunization record systems. The goal of the IRFS is to support accurate, complete immunization record collection, regardless of immunization service provider (such as a pharmacist, primary care physician, emergency room or public health nurse) shared within and between provincial / territorial / other registries, to the extent permitted by provincial or territorial law. This will support the following actions:

Overarching principles related to the immunization registry functional standards

Use of the term immunization registry

The term "immunization registry" is intended to represent the immunization information system digital assets and interfaces used by a jurisdiction for the management and delivery of immunization program services. These assets could include interoperable source systems that may feed standardized data directly to a single database of vaccination events. This is commonly referred to as an immunization information system (IIS) internationally.

Data quality and integrity

Standardized data submission is imperative to maintain the integrity and functionality of the immunization registry. As an immunization registry matures, the importance of maintaining data quality is paramount as the ability for the rRegistry to produce data for program analytics relies on complete and accurate data.

Regulatory framework

All immunization registry functionality must comply with federal, provincial, territorial and local legislation, policies, and restrictions applicable to the jurisdiction. An immunization registry must include appropriate measures to restrict access, manage and prevent loss and theft, and maintain the privacy of client's personal health information.

Population level denominator data

The immunization registry uses appropriate sources of denominator data to support immunization service delivery and immunization coverage assessment. Appropriate sources for the population served by immunization programs may include vital statistics data (such as records of births and deaths), daycare or nursery and school enrollment lists, provincial or territorial health insurance plan, or alternative stakeholder registries.


While immunization programs require information system functionality for activities such as AEFI reporting and vaccine inventory management, these need not be core functionalities of an immunization registry. Regardless, the IRFS adoption will support AEFI and vaccine inventory management by facilitating or supporting standards-based, complete and accurate immunization record keeping at the point of service.


Common data standards must be used across immunization registries to support data exchange of vaccination records. Provinces and territories should work together to agree upon specific sets of standards for data storage and transfer between jurisdictions. The national immunization data elements (NIDE, see Appendix A) describes what variables should be collected, at minimum, when inputting a vaccination record in a registry. In September 2018, the Canadian Immunization Committee members agreed in principle to the need and recommended use of the national immunization data elements.

Immunization registry functional standards

Immunization registry goal #1

The immunization registry supports the capture of immunization records and the delivery of immunization services, regardless of the care setting.

Functional standards

Immunization registry goal #2

The immunization registry maintains standards-based, complete, accurate and timely data on all clients and immunization services delivered.

Functional standards

Immunization registry goal #3

The immunization registry provides reliable digital access and exchange of electronic immunization information across all health providers with other jurisdictions (including federal), consistent with current legislative and interoperability requirements.

Functional standards

Immunization registry goal #4

The immunization registry supports timely and accurate AEFI reporting.

Functional standards

Appendix A: National immunization data elements 2018

The pan-Canadian national immunization data elements (NIDE) are the minimum fields an immunization registry must store or produce to support interoperability. In 2016, 14 data elements and their associated terminology subsets were defined. The 2018 update includes an additional 4 data elements and terminology subsets, plus updates to the content created in 2016. The minimum data elements an immunization registry should capture can be found below in Appendix B.

The NIDE are not intended to be a comprehensive list of all data elements that immunization registries and other information systems will need for optimal functionality. The immunization registry may infer or extract or auto-populate distinct values or data elements. Actual architectural implementations will differ between systems.

The pan-Canadian NIDE includes a guidance document for message content, format and transport to support real-time system interoperability, regardless of the system in use (for example, applicable for Panorama and other solutions). The guidance document is available here: NIDE 2018

The Canadian Vaccine Catalogue provides a downloadable database, updated monthly, containing the vaccine terminology subsets and variable product information that can be used to populate fields as prescribed by the NIDE.

Appendix B: Mandatory (core or minimum) immunization data elements

Client and provider data elements are included, as applicable, as part of the conformance specifications. However, the messaging or terminology standards for client and provider data elements are managed by jurisdictional client and provider registry requirements.

2 key use cases are provided below, with the corresponding mandatory data elements. These data elements must be present for the record to be created.

Use Case #1: Vaccine administered. Clinician has the "vial in hand" and therefore can provide specific details on the event including the product, client, and clinician details.
Data Element Recommended Use
Administrable immunizing agent (trade name) Mandatory
Immunization lot number Mandatory
Immunization expiry date Mandatory
Date of immunization administration Mandatory
Client unique identifier Mandatory
Client date of birth Mandatory
Use Case #2: Reported immunization record. Clinician, client or parent is reporting a vaccine that was previously administered.
Data Element Recommended Usage
Immunizing agent (generic) or
administrable immunizing agent (trade name)
Immunization reporting source Mandatory
Date of immunization administration Mandatory
Client unique identifier Mandatory
Client date of birth Mandatory

Appendix C: People vaccinated outside their province or territory of residence


The purpose of the recommendation below is to support the implementation of sections 3.1 and 3.1.1 of the IRFS by providing additional guidance on how to share data between provinces and territories about people vaccinated outside of their province or territory of residence.

Ensuring that provincial and territorial immunization registries are complete and up to date for resident vaccination will facilitate: 1) appropriate offering of recommended vaccines; and 2) use of registry data for immunization program surveillance.


Non-residents are readily identified at the time of vaccination because they have a permanent address outside of the province or territory.

Obtaining consent

This recommendation applies to jurisdictions where privacy laws prevent data sharing between registries without patient, parental or caregiver consent.

Recommendation: If a person is vaccinated in a province or territory where they are not a resident, they should be asked for consent to share their vaccination information with their province or territory of residence. For example, the following could be asked: "Do you authorize the Government of [province or territory of vaccination] to communicate information on the vaccine you received to the government of your current province or territory of residence?" (Responses: "Yes" or "No").

Documenting consent

This recommendation applies in jurisdictions where privacy laws prevent data sharing between registries without patient, parental or caregiver consent.

To be of practical use, consent for data sharing should be recorded directly in an immunization registry to allow for the extraction of immunization records of individuals who consented to data sharing.

Recommendation: Fields to be added to immunization registries to record: 1) Non-residents' consent to share information of vaccinations received with their province or territory of residence and 2) the date on which consent was given.

In addition to recording in the registry, a paper or electronic version of the consent should be signed if it is needed for the consent to be valid as per provincial or territorial law.

Documenting health insurance numbers

Most immunization registries are able to record, for visitors to their jurisdiction, a unique personal identifier for the visitor from their own jurisdiction of permanent residence, such as the health card number.

Recommendation: The preferred unique identifier for visitors is the provincial or territorial health card. In the absence of a health card, other ID should be recorded in the registry (such as a passport or driver's license).

Sharing data

Recommendation: Every 3 months (or more frequently if needed) provinces and territories should extract, from their immunization registry, records of vaccinations of residents from other provinces and territories that have been entered since the previous extract. In jurisdictions where privacy laws prevent data sharing between registries without patient, parental or caregiver consent, only vaccinations of individuals for whom such consent was granted should be included. Records should include the following data elements (when available):

Recommendation: Vaccination information should be sent from the province or territory where vaccination occurred to patients' province or territory of residence in a secure manner.

Requests for information on the Immunization Registry Functional Standards (IRFS) should be directed to: Canadian Immunization Registry and Coverage Network (CIRC):

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