Purpose: A two-dimensional barcode that includes both static information (vaccine identifier) and variable information (expiration date and lot number) can facilitate streamlined documentation and sharing of vaccine administration. We sought to identify how vaccine tracking information in the two-dimensional barcode is represented in systems that are used by pharmacies, providers, and public health agencies.
Methods: We identified and reviewed relevant information technology standards that govern data storage and exchange for providers, pharmacy systems, billing systems, and manufacturers to identify how each system codes the vaccine identifier, expiration date, and lot number. We selected standards commonly used by manufacturers, providers, and pharmacies and mapped the critical vaccine data elements across them. We shared the mapping with stakeholders to identify areas of alignment across standards and discussed how to address misalignment going forward.
Results: Data elements were not consistently formatted in each type of information system. The vaccine lot number and expiration date were consistent, which would facilitate sharing across information systems. However, the way to identify a given vaccine is not consistent in each standard and would require manual entry. This inconsistency is related to the segmentation of the National Drug Code into three components. Therefore, vaccine identification methods differ across the systems governed by different standards.
Conclusion: Patient safety can be enhanced by automated verification of the vaccine ordered versus the vaccine administered. Immunizers' back-end systems would benefit from automated documentation and reporting.