Text message reminders increase flu vaccination rates

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Text message reminders were found to be an effective, low-cost method to increase influenza vaccinations, according to a study published in the Annals of Family Medicine.

Annual influenza vaccinations save patients and providers time and money, but the amount of people receiving vaccinations are below optimal levels. In this study, researchers analyzed text messaging reminders as a feasible method to increasing vaccination rates at a low cost.

Researchers enrolled 12,354 high-risk patients who had not been vaccinated six weeks after seasonal flu vaccinations began. These patients had a telephone number on record at 10 Western Australian practices. Participants were split evenly into a group receiving vaccination reminders via text messages and the other participants received no text messages. Vaccination data was collected from patients' electronic health records three months after text message reminders were sent.

Results showed that 12 percent of text messages participants and 9 percent of control participants were vaccinated during the study, a 39 percent increase correlating to the text message reminders. Additionally, one high-risk patients was vaccinated for every 29 texts sent, at a cost of $3.48. Parents who received the text message intervention also increased the rate of children under 5 years old receiving vaccinations by 2 percent.

“We found text messaging reminders to be a modestly effective, low-cost means to increase seasonal influenza vaccine coverage among high-risk patients,” concluded first author Annette K. Regan, PhD, MPH.