GS1 Canada helps build online vaccine database

Supply chain standards organization GS1 Canada has partnered on an initiative that should help health care and supply chain professionals manage vaccines licensed for use in Canada by having centralized access to consistent validated product information.


GS1 Canada is working with the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) to populate a new online national database with important vaccine information such as barcode number, brand name and active ingredients.

Robert Bell, director of health care with GS1 Canada, said that the Vaccine Information Database System (VIDS) will address the current lack of a central repository for this sort of information. “Does the vaccine have any active ingredients and what is the storage temperature for vaccines? So that clinicians and public health officials will know how to manage the vaccines in the field,” said Bell.

Vaccine products are already required in Canada to be uniquely identified by a GS1-standard barcode. GS1 Canada has been maintaining a registry, the National Product Registry, with a large array of product data gathered directly from manufacturers globally.

The idea is that data from GS1 Canada’s registry will contribute to populating VIDS. PHAC will also input additional information such as lot and expiry dates. Ultimately, this collection of vaccine information in VIDS will be fed to end users who require it to perform their jobs.

“What we’re trying to do by working with PHAC is we want to encourage efficient and complete electronic records management for vaccine administration,” said Bell.

Before such a database, clinicians and those along the supply chain did not have access to the data, often having to resort to checking the product packaging or contacting suppliers. “But that’s transactional because the next week you may have somebody in the same office looking for the same information and in turn contact the same supplier again,” said Bell. “So it’s very repetitive.”

While GS1 Canada provides the data feed and education and support regarding the database attributes, the actual database was built by PHAC. At press time, PHAC was not available to talk to ComputerWorld Canada about the database.

Brendan Seaton, president of Ottawa-based ITAC Health, thinks VIDS has significant implications for patient safety and for the health sector’s ability to effectively deal with public emergencies.

“The integration of product-related information, such as vaccines, into our public health information systems is a critical success factor in the management of communicable diseases,” wrote Seaton in an e-mail statement to ComputerWorld Canada.

VIDS is due to launch Dec. 7.

Follow Kathleen on Twitter: @KathleenLau

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