Text message reminders increase flu vaccine uptake

Text message reminders about the influenza vaccine increased uptake among low-income pregnant women, particularly in the third trimester, according to a study recently published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health followed 1,187 obstetric patients from five community-based clinics in New York City. The women in the intervention group received five weekly text messages about the importance of the vaccine and two text message appointment reminders. Both groups received standard automated reminders of their appointments by telephone.

The researchers found that text messaging increased vaccination coverage by 30 percent. A subgroup of women in their third trimester had the highest intervention effect with 61.9 percent of the intervention group receiving vaccines versus 49 percent in the control group.

"Vaccination during pregnancy helps to protect newborns," Melissa Stockwell, an assistant professor at Mailman School, said. "To achieve protection before influenza begins circulating in the community, we strongly recommend that women receive influenza vaccination during pregnancy and as soon as the vaccine becomes available in the fall."

The researchers said studies on vaccine text message reminder-recalls among low-income pregnant women are limited. Previous studies looked into text message vaccine reminder-recalls to improve vaccination rates among adolescent and pediatric populations.