Sending patients text messages both reminding them of vaccine appointments and detailing the benefits of getting vaccinated can increase the number of pregnant women from low income backgrounds getting a flu vaccine.
The study by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia, US found that the addition of detailed messages improved vaccine coverage by 30% between the control and intervention groups made up of 1187 women.
The study ‘Influenza Vaccine Text Message Reminders for Urban, Low-Income Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial’ , due to be published in February 2014 in the American Journal of Public Health this February.
The study took on this demographic in light of a gap in research in this particular area. Previous studies had found that sending parents messages about the benefits of getting their kids vaccinated had increased vaccine coverage in children and teens by 4%, which, if applied across the entire US could mean an extra 2.5 million children and teens would be vaccinated.
These simple automated messaging systems are relatively cheap to run and can be customized to send more specific and relevant messages. With the majority of people in the western world having access to a mobile phone, the potential to reach vulnerable or neglected parts of society is great.