Text-message reminders increased flu vaccination rates in children
Young people in a low-income, urban population had an increased rate of influenza vaccinations when they received text-message reminders vs. those assigned to usual-care alone.
“Text messaging is a novel approach to increase influenza vaccine coverage,” the researchers wrote. “It can be used for large populations at low cost, especially when linked to immunization registries and electronic health record systems. Families appear to be interested in text-message vaccine reminders, particularly those with unlimited text-messaging plans.”
The randomized controlled trial included 9,213 children and adolescents aged 6 months to 18 years who received care during the 2010-2011 influenza season at four community-based clinics. Among these children, 7,574 had not received the influenza vaccine before the intervention start date.
Parents of the children assigned to receive the intervention received up to five weekly immunization-registry-linked text messages. The messages provided educational information and instructions. Both groups received usual care, which included an automated telephone reminder and access to informational fliers.
By March 31, 2011, a higher number of children and adolescents in the intervention group received the influenza vaccine: 43.6% vs. 39.9% of those in the usual-care group. At the fall review date, 27.1% of children in the intervention group received the vaccine compared with 22.8% of the usual-care group.
“Immunization registry-linked text messaging with education-related messages increased influenza vaccination coverage compared with usual care in traditionally hard-to-reach, low-income, urban, minority population,” the researchers wrote. “Underlying vaccination coverage overall remained low, as they do nationally, and further studies are recommended to identify ways to maximize the potential of text messaging.”
Disclosures: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.