13. January 2021
Germany’s biggest Corona vaccination centre began work in Hamburg’s exhibition halls on 5 January. For identification labelling, the Hamburg Association of Statutory Health Insurance Physicians, which is responsible for the vaccination centre’s operational procedures, relies on Mediaform’s safe, secure Covid-19 Vaccine Vial and Syringe Identification Labelling and Documentation. The joint project by Friedrich Karl Schroeder GmbH & Co. KG, alanta health service GmbH and Mediaform Informationssysteme GmbH is a real success story, because it allows up to 7,000 patients to be vaccinated against Covid-19 in 64 treatment rooms there every day.
After the vaccine produced by BioNTech was approved in Germany shortly before Christmas, one thing was clear: the vaccination centre, which had just been completed, can finally start to provide its service. But how does it ensure that patients being vaccinated did not accidentally receive a dose of the sensitive vaccine that is already out of date? How to avoid mix-ups? And how can the complex processes relating to vaccination be transparently designed and made seamlessly traceable in the interests of patient safety and security?
The solution sounds simple, but is actually complex: machine-readable barcodes, refrigeration-proof adhesive identification labels, a software solution developed specifically for this project, fast 2-D barcode scanners and easy-to-operate barcode label printers. Mediaform Informationssysteme GmbH was entrusted with its implementation. Among other things, the Reinbek-based company group specialises in identification labelling solutions, particularly for the health service, and due to its comprehensive expertise and quick adaptation to daily changes in requirements, it was able to offer a safe, secure identification labelling and documentation solution in good time.
Scan-to-Print solution guarantees safe, secure vaccinations
The producer supplies the vaccine in vials that are stored in low-temperature refrigeration. For further use, they are taken out of cryo-refrigeration and then slowly thawed out at 2 - 8°C in refrigerators for three hours. When removed from cryo-refrigeration and from the refrigerators, every vial is clearly identified by using the fully-autonomous Covid-19 Vaccine Vial Identification System, a reliable scan-to-print solution from Mediaform. Each label carries the vaccine name, batch number and use-by date, together with a data matrix barcode that contains all the above-mentioned information in a machine-readable format.
The vaccine is diluted with a sodium chloride solution just before administration. To do this, Specialist Medical Staff (SMSs) take a vial out of the refrigerators and use one of the Covid-19 Vaccine Syringe Identification Labelling and Document-ation stations. The SMSs scan the barcode on the vial label and print five syringe labels with the vaccine name, batch number and “use by” date/time stamp, together with the associated barcode. After that, five syringes are filled from the vial and given syringe labels. Each syringe is now marked with a current shelf life date/time – thus guaranteeing that no syringe with a vaccine that is already out of date is administered by accident.
In the treatment rooms, the barcode on the syringe for each vaccination patient is then scanned on another Covid-19 Vaccine Syringe Identification Labelling and Documentation station, and two documentation identification labels with the vaccine name and batch number are printed for each patient. These are intended for the job ticket and the vaccination passport or vaccination document. At the vaccination centre’s check-out desk, the data encrypted in the barcode is read using an electronic document scanner/recorder and saved in the vaccination patient’s digital record. Documentation labels on the vaccination passport or vaccination document ensure that every vaccinated patient knows exactly when and where he or she was vaccinated, and with which active ingredient. As the Mediaform company group’s Managing Director Jörg Weber explains: “Moreover, if necessary, process steps and functionalities such as further serialised vaccines, unique numbers for reporting, or even additional date information can be integrated into the freely-programmable Covid-19 Vaccine Identification Labelling System, because we designed the solution in such a way that it grows with each additional requirement.”
Details of the identification labelling solution
An identification label printer of the MH240T type manufactured by TSC Auto ID Technology Co. with a built-in label dispenser module ensures an efficient, safe, secure printing process in the Covid-19 Vaccine Identification Labelling System. The intuitive colour touch-display with menu buttons simplifies operation. All the entries take place via a keyboard connected to the printer, and through a 2-D data matrix barcode scanner that is also attached. The scan-to-print solution for the Covid-19 Vaccine Syringe Identification Labelling and Documentation System consists of a 2-D barcode scanner and a compact identification label printer of the Primas® 300T type made by Mediaform. This high-performance thermal transfer printer is particularly suitable for printing small typefaces and 2-D data matrix barcodes.
Jörg Weber says: “To guarantee quick delivery of the required 64 scan-to-print syringe and documentation printers for the vaccination centre in Hamburg’s exhibition halls, colleagues from the Marketing, Engineering and Support departments immediately built a purpose-equipped “production line” in our logistics building in Reinbek.” Because their important task required the machines first of all to be transformed into real “out-of-the-box” systems, i.e. assembled, cabled up and provided with labels, ink ribbons and the appropriate software. The pre-configured machines then went through quality control and final testing. In the case of the Primas® printer, processing the entered and/or recorded data takes place via the tried-and-tested TSPL programming language from the printer manufacturer TSC, one of the world’s leading suppliers of high-performance, innovative auto-ID solutions.
Mediaform’s service technicians commissioned the system only after a successful test phase in the Hamburg vaccination centre, in which the entire project team participated. Jörg Weber is delighted, and says “Our printers, scanners and barcode printing systems were fully ready for use straight away.” Another benefit: the solution is progressively expandable to meet growing demand – i.e. additional printers, scanners and barcode printing systems (scan-to-print) can be installed and brought into operation immediately in a non-location-dependent way and without any connection to an IT network. This makes the solution usable even for mobile vaccination sessions.
The right consumable materials are decisive
Mediaform’s Pharmigo® Matt TT roll labels in 34x16 mm format are used for the safe, secure identification labelling of vials and syringes. They are used for the identification labelling of vials at refrigerator and room temperature, for vaccine syringe identification labelling and for documentation labels for vaccination passports. As the Managing Director explains: “These labels are a part of Mediaform’s medical product portfolio, and in conjunction with thermal transfer printing they have proved successful for the identification labelling of a wide variety of blood sample containers and syringes in medical laboratories and in the pharmaceutical industry for many years. This is also true for their use as documentation labels on vaccination passports.”
Where there’s a will, there’s a way
In reality, however, it wasn’t quite as simple as it might appear from reading the Hamburg success story. “New challenges confronted us every day. Initially, there was no information about the vaccine. How and in which temperature ranges it needed to be stored or identification labelled was also unclear, and last but not least we had to guarantee the availability of the hardware, including its needs-based programming.”
According to Jörg Weber, assembling the vaccine identification labelling systems quickly was one aspect, but support and assistance in ongoing operation “was then perhaps an even more important aspect.” Because, ultimately, there was a need to prepare operating instructions and how-to videos, as well as training the local staff in safe, secure procedures. However: “Acting together, and thanks to the unlimited willingness of all the participants contribute decisively to the provision of quick, safe, secure vaccination against the coronavirus, we were finally able to overcome all the obstacles. I should like to take this opportunity to mention in particular the outstandingly good collaboration with the colleagues in the alanta health service GmbH team who were responsible for the project.”
More information: www.mediaform.de