Text messages can improve vaccination coverage

A recently published study showed that influenza vaccination rates among low-income, hard-to-reach minority children and adolescents in the United States improved if their parents received education-related text messages.

The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showed that overall vaccine coverage remained low despite the messages, but the technique appears to have potential, according to

"Coverage is lower in low-Income populations who are at higher risk of influenza spread due to crowded living conditions," the researchers said, reports. "Traditional vaccine reminders have had a limited effect on low-Income populations; however, text messaging is a novel, scalable approach to promote influenza vaccination.

"Using text messaging (especially when linked with electronic health records [EHRs] or registries) to identify and notify large patient populations in need of vaccination could be an efficient means for improving influenza vaccination rates in adults as well as children and adolescents."

The researchers said that text messages are capable of reaching large populations with minimal cost, and even small increases in coverage could lead to a large increase in the actual number of people protected from influenza infection.

"Once the system is set up, the only variable cost is the sending of the text messages, which, even using commercial platforms, usually cost pennies per message," the researchers said, according to "Therefore, depending on the size of the population, even amortizing upfront and monitoring costs, text messaging is inexpensive on a per individual basis."