GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that it will place additional-capacity 2D barcodes on most of its US-licensed vaccine containers to support electronic medical record keeping.
The 2D barcodes are small squares that occupy minimal space compared to existing linear barcodes, and can also hold more information.
The extra capacity of 2D Data Matrix technology permits GSK to encode product identification, expiration date, and lot number on each vaccine.
Combined with the necessary hardware and software, the technology enables healthcare providers to update inventory, patient and vaccination records automatically.
GSK will place the barcodes on the inner containers and outer boxes of the vaccines.
The pharmaceutical and healthcare company's latest announcement reflects its intention to implement barcoding beyond the pilot initiative commenced in 2011 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave approval for GSK to add the technology to its vaccine labelling, and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) also supported the initiative.
AAP vaccine barcoding project co-chair Edward Zissman said: "The move to scan vaccines electronically is an important step in helping to facilitate accurate and uniform records of immunisation for children across the U.S."
GSK initially piloted the 1440 ELU vial presentation of hepatitis A vaccine Havrix with 2D barcoding. It now plans to extend the technology to all of its vaccines by the second quarter of 2014.