Young children are more likely to get a second dose of influenza vaccine when their parents receive reminders by text message, a new study reports.
After determining in a previous study that text reminders improved vaccination rates for initial flu shots in young children, researchers examined whether such reminders would also increase the number of children who received a needed second vaccine dose in a timely manner.
Their randomized, controlled trial of 660 families, conducted during the 2012-2013 flu season at 3 community-based pediatric clinics in New York City, divided children aged 6 months to 8 years in need of a second flu shot into 3 groups whose parents received a written reminder only or text messages with and without vaccine educational information.
Children whose parents received educational text messages were significantly more likely to get a second flu shot (72.7%) than children whose parents received conventional text reminders (66.7%) or a written reminder only (57.1%). They also had more timely receipt of the vaccine.
Parents reported high levels of satisfaction with the text messages and said they would recommend them to other parents. More than 60% said they brought their child for a second vaccine dose mainly or partly because of the messages; 70% said they brought their child for the second dose sooner than they would have without the messages.
Influenza vaccine coverage in children aged younger than 17 years is low (56.6%), the researchers point out, highlighting the need to find effective ways to increase the vaccination rate. The need is especially pressing in children aged younger than 9 years, who may require 2 doses in a season depending on their previous vaccination status.
Only 40% to 60% of children who need a second dose get one, and many of them get the second dose after the recommended 28-day follow-up period has elapsed, leaving them incompletely protected.
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