At a flu clinic today at the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC), the Commission’s Infectious Disease Bureau and Boston EMS are using patient tracking system technology to track recipients of the vaccine. This is believed to be the first use of the technology in this way. The technology was originally purchased in 2006 to track patients in emergency situations. Boston EMS has used the system during disaster exercises, to track injured runners during the Boston Marathon as well as at first aid stations during July 4th celebrations.

«This technology will allow us to immunize and track vaccine patients more quickly in fast-paced, large-scale vaccine clinics,» said Dr. Anita Barry, director of the BPHC’s Infectious Disease Bureau.

There are many public health uses for the vaccination information gathered. The system tracks the batch number and type of vaccine patients receive so they can be alerted if ever there’s a problem with that batch. The information can also be compared to the results of past flu seasons and can help plan which neighborhoods and populations should be contacted for upcoming flu clinics.

«This is simply a smart use of the technology we already have,» Boston EMS Chief Richard Serino said. «Tracking vaccine information in this way allows us to get data in real time and share that information with other public health agencies. We will also be able to use the information to see who’s really getting the flu to better plan future clinics. »

According to the CDC, more than 200,000 people are hospitalized and 36,000 Americans die from the flu each year. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, those with chronic illnesses and public health workers are all recommended to get a flu vaccine.

The BPHC has a listing of the seasonal flu clinics available to the public. For more information, please go to www.bphc.org/bphc/pdfs/FluClinics.pdf or call 617 534-5611.

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