Integrating Barcode Scanning Technology into Vaccination Settings

Program Delivery and Evaluation Network

Reliable immunization data are necessary for surveillance, yet 10%–60% of immunization records are missing important information or contain errors. We are collaborating with PHAC’s Automated Identification of Vaccine Projects Advisory Task Group (AIVP ATG) to explore barcode scanning integration into vaccination settings to demonstrate feasibility and encourage national adoption. During the 2010–2011 influenza season, we conducted a study in 21 Ontario public health units (PHUs) to assess the feasibility of barcode scanning for recording vaccine clinic inventory. In this study’s second phase, we will examine barcode scanning of vaccine data (vaccine name, lot number, expiry date) on vials at the point of vaccination into individual-level immunization records in general vaccination clinics. General vaccination clinics were chosen because they are not restricted to three months of the year as seasonal influenza vaccination campaigns are, although we expect our findings will also be relevant for influenza vaccination programs. We will evaluate the integration of barcode scanning technology into vaccination sites in Algoma PHU (Ontario) and two Alberta First Nation communities (Siksika and Stoney). We will assess record quality (completeness and accuracy), the time required to scan the vials, and staff perceptions of the technology. In a future grant application, we plan to introduce barcode scanning in physician offices. As the first study to examine the feasibility of scanning manufacturer-produced two-dimensional barcodes on vaccine vials in immunization settings, we anticipate our findings will be valuable to immunization program managers and other decision-makers involved in vaccine delivery.