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Baby fingerprints can improve immunisation coverage

A new study led by Indian-origin researcher Anil Jain has found that fingerprints of infants and toddlers have the potential to accurately record immunisations and improve vaccination coverage.

Jain said that this could prove highly useful in developing countries. "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.

It is to be noted that 2.5 million children die across the world annually due to lack of life-saving vaccinations.

In an apparent effort to improve immunisation coverage, Jain is developing a fingerprint-based recognition method to track vaccination schedules for infants and toddlers.

For the study, 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.

The researchers will use this scanned data to create a schedule, which will become a part of the vaccine registry system.

"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.