News Feature | October 6, 2014

Fingerprint Technology Could Improve Vaccine Accuracy

Katie Wike

By Katie Wike, contributing writer

Vaccine Accuracy With Fingerprints

Researchers from Michigan State University say that tracking children through their fingerprints has the potential to greatly improve vaccination accuracy.

Fingerprint technology could be the key to improving vaccination records for children, say experts. Michigan State University researchers used an optical fingerprint reader to scan the thumbs and index fingers of patients, which they say can be used to create vaccination profiles.

"Paper documents are easily lost or destroyed,” Anil Jain, a Michigan State University professor told MSU Today. "Our initial study has shown that fingerprints of infants and toddlers have great potential to accurately record immunizations. You can lose a paper document, but not your fingerprints.”

By creating a gallery of prints of the thumb and index fingers of patients, the matching process has been significantly improved, according to Fierce Health IT.

“One of the major goals of most national, international and non-governmental health organizations is to eradicate the occurrence of vaccine-preventable childhood diseases (e.g., polio). Without a high vaccination coverage in a country or a geographical region, these deadly diseases take a heavy toll on children,” notes the report.

“The process can still be improved but we have shown its feasibility,” Jain said earlier this year. “We will continue to work on refining the fingerprint matching software and finding the best reader to capture fingerprints of young children, which will be of immense global value. We also plan to conduct a longitudinal study to ensure that fingerprints of babies can be successfully matched over time.”

“Solving the puzzle of fingerprinting young children will have far-reaching implications beyond health care, including the development of civil registries, government benefits’ tracking and education recordkeeping,” Mark Thomas, executive director of VaxTrac, a nonprofit organization supporting Jain’s research said.