Text message reminders push influenza vaccination in kids

Sending text message reminders with educational information on the importance of the second dose of influenza vaccine boosts timely administration of the vaccine required for many young children, shows new research.

Parents like such text messages and see them as helpful because they act as a reminder, provide information and demonstrates that someone “cares,” the findings showed.

“Text message programmes like these allow healthcare providers to care for their patients even when they are not in front of them in the office, somewhat like a modern day house call,” said principal investigator Melissa Stockwell, assistant professor at Mailman School of Public Health in the US.

The trial conducted during the 2012-2013 influenza season involved children in 660 families.

The results showed that children in the educational text message reminder group were significantly more likely to receive a second dose of influenza vaccine (72.7 percent) than both those in the conventional text message reminder group (66.7 percent) and written reminder-only group (57.1 percent).

Nearly two-thirds of parents reported the reminder was either the main reason or part of the reason they brought their child for a second dose, and 70 percent said it helped bringing their child sooner.

Timeliness of the vaccination is also a key, as many children who need two doses are not fully protected until two weeks after receipt of the second dose.

The study appeared online in the journal Pediatrics.


Melissa S. Stockwell, Annika M. Hofstetter, Nathalie DuRivage, Angela Barrett, Nadira Fernandez, Celibell Y. Vargas, and Stewin Camargo. Text Message Reminders for Second Dose of Influenza Vaccine: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Pediatrics peds.2014-2475; published ahead of print December 29, 2014, doi:10.1542/peds.2014-2475

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