(RxWiki News) Making sure that your child is protected from seasonal flu is important. Text message reminders may give parents that extra push to get their child vaccinated.
Researchers at Columbia University found that sending text messages to parents about flu vaccinations leads to an increase in the number of children who received the vaccine.
The controlled study tracked 9,213 children who were between six months to 18 years old. All of the kids had received medical treatment at one of four clinics in the US during the 2010-2011 flu season. Some of the kids had received a flu vaccine before; 7,574 had never received a flu vaccine.
"Get your child a flu vaccine and avoid illness."
The study subjects were divided into two groups: those who received an automated telephone message reminding parents about the flu vaccine, and a second group whose parents received text messages in addition to a telephone message.
All of the subjects had access to vaccine instructions at the study site, where posted flyers gave information about the flu vaccine.
During the study period, the intervention group’s parents had received up to five text messages that gave information about Saturday clinics that could provide a flu shot.
Most of the study’s kids were part of a minority group. About 88 percent received government-sponsored insurance, and 58 percent were from Spanish-speaking families.
The researchers found that at the end of the study period (March 31, 2011), 43.6 percent of kids in the intervention group got the flu vaccine, compared to 39.9 percent in the non-text-receiving group.
Overall, the vaccination rate remained low, which reflects a national trend of flu vaccine avoidance.
Text messaging can be an effective way to reach large numbers of people, especially low-income, urban kids, says lead study author Dr. Melissa Stockwell, assistant professor of Pediatrics and Population and Family Health at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons and Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health, in a press release.
“Even small increases in the flu vaccination rates can lead to large numbers of protected individuals,” she says.
This study was published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).