Posted by: yourhealthradio | August 10, 2012

Can Text Messaging Increase Flu Shots in Children?

The Journal of American Medical Association did a study on “e-mobile technology”, for example sending text messages on phones to try to increase immunization rates, in this case flu rates of children.

The research was done at the University of Rochester where about 8,000, mostly low-income kids, and parents got a series of text messages regarding flu shots starting at the beginning of the 2010-2011 flu season, and then received an additional reminder.

About half the parents got weekly text messages, educating them about the flu and the importance of immunizing their children. They also got weekly text messages reminding them about flu clinics that were being held.

Researchers found that about 44% of the kids and teens that were in the text message group were vaccinated and about 40% of those parents who did not receive texts were vaccinated.

Statistically, there’s not much difference, but clinically this is important, and here’s why. These authors pointed out that if these results were applied to the entire population you would have several million more kids getting vaccinated.

One of the concerns we should consider is cost and even potentially, some privacy issues. But despite the possible downsides, even if it’s only a 4% difference, if you apply that, it could result in lives saved.  I think we should continue to pursue this area of research of using text message reminders as a potential to make a difference from the public health perspective. In the meantime though, make sure your children are getting their flu shots every year!

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