Parents who receive reminders more likely to vaccinate chronically-ill kids

The University of Michigan announced on Monday a study revealed that the state immunization registry can encourage parents to have their children get influenza vaccinations.

Researchers worked with the Michigan Department of Community Heath to review a statewide flu vaccination reminder program that was used during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-2010. Study results were published on Nov. 14 in American Journal of Public Health.

Parents of children with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes, who had not received an influenza vaccine received letters from MDCH. The letter provided information about health complications of H1N1 and encouraged parents to have their children vaccinated.

Vaccination rates increased for children whose parents received a reminder letter, compared to children whose parents did not receive a letter.

"Immunization registries like (the Michigan Care Improvement Registry) are important public health tools," Kevin Dombkowski, a research associate professor with the University of Michigan's Child Health Evaluation and Research Unit, said. "This study shows the value of using immunization registries to prompt parents of children with a chronic condition to get that child vaccinated."

Dombkowski said the results of the study illustrate the importance of public health preparedness. He said MDCH invested significant amounts of time and resources to create and maintain the vaccination database.

"MDCH officials recognized the importance of being able to identify these high-risk kids in the event of a severe influenza season, so as a consequence, MCIR was ready when the H1N1 pandemic hit in 2009," Dombkowski said. "All kids 6 months and older should receive flu vaccine each season, but those with chronic conditions are considered priority cases during pandemics or times of vaccine shortages."