Fingerprints of infants and toddlers have the potential to accurately record immunisations and improve vaccination coverage, especially in developing countries, says a study led by an Indian-origin researcher.
"To increase coverage, the vaccines must be recorded and tracked," said Anil Jain, professor at the Michigan State University in the US.
"The traditional tracking method is for parents to keep a paper document. But in developing countries, keeping track of a baby's vaccine schedule on paper is largely ineffective," Jain added.
Each year 2.5 million children die world-wide because they do not receive life-saving vaccinations at the appropriate time.
To improve immunisation coverage, Jain is developing a fingerprint-based recognition method to track vaccination schedules for infants and toddlers.
Jain and his team travelled to rural health facilities in Benin, West Africa, to test the new fingerprint recognition system.
They used an optical fingerprint reader to scan the thumbs and index fingers of babies and toddlers.
From this scanned data, a schedule would be created and become a part of the vaccine registry system.
Once the electronic registry is in place, health care workers could simply re-scan the child's fingers to view the vaccination schedule.
They would know who has been vaccinated, for what diseases and when additional booster shots are needed.
"These new electronic registry systems will help overcome the lack and loss of information, which is the primary problem in the vaccine delivery system in third world nations," Jain said.
The findings will be presented at the International Joint Conference on Biometrics in the US on Oct 2.