-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, April 24 (HealthDay News) -- Sending text message
reminders to parents improves the rate of flu vaccination among
low-income children and teens in cities, researchers have
The new study, published in the April 25 issue of the
Journal of the American Medical Association, included more than 7,500 children and teens aged 6 months to 18 years who were receiving care at four community-based clinics in the United States during the 2010-2011 flu season, and had not received a flu vaccination.
The study participants were primarily from minority groups, 88
percent were publicly insured and 58 percent were from
The children and their parents were randomly divided into usual
care and intervention groups. Parents in both groups received
automated telephone reminders and access to informational flyers
posted at the study site. The parents in the intervention group
also received up to five weekly text messages providing information
about flu vaccination and instructions about Saturday clinics.
As of March 31, 2011, nearly 44 percent of the children in the
intervention group had received the flu vaccine, compared with just
under 40 percent of those in the usual care group.
Flu vaccine coverage among U.S. children is low, the study
authors noted in a journal news release. Only 51 percent of
children and teens aged 6 months to 17 years received the flu
vaccine in the 2010-2011 season.
"Coverage is lower in low-income populations who are at higher risk of influenza spread due to crowded living conditions," Dr. Melissa Stockwell, of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues wrote in the report. "Traditional vaccine reminders have had a limited effect on low-income populations; however, text messaging is a novel, scalable approach to promote influenza vaccination."
The researchers added that the use of "text messaging
(especially when linked with electronic health records 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
Children and teenagers from 6 months to 18 years of age are at
greater risk than some other age groups for flu-related illness and
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more
children, the flu and flu vaccination.
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