A new study evaluated the impact of text messaging reminders for influenza vaccine in a low-income obstetric population.
Columbia University researchers discovered that sending text messages to this population of women resulted in an uptick in influenza vaccination, especially for those who received the messages early in their third trimester.
Results from the paper were published in the American Journal of Public Health, a special issue on the latest methods and practices in improving birth outcomes.
Investigators followed 1187 obstetric patients from five community-based clinics in New York City that are part of an ambulatory care network which routinely provides influenza vaccinations to pregnant women.
Women in the intervention group received five weekly text messages about the importance of the vaccine starting in mid-September 2011 and two text message appointment reminders.
Both the intervention group and a control group received standard automated telephone appointment reminders.
The results showed that text messaging was successfully used to increase vaccination coverage.
Adjusting for gestational age and number of clinic visits, women who received the intervention were 30 percent more likely to be vaccinated.
A subgroup of women early in the third trimester had the highest intervention effect – 61.9 percent of the intervention group was vaccinated versus 49 percent for the control group.
Vaccine text message reminder-recalls in this population have been limited. Earlier studies by some of these investigators at Columbia looked at text messaging vaccine reminder-recalls to improve influenza vaccination rates in pediatric and adolescent populations.
“Vaccination during pregnancy helps to protect newborns,” said Melissa Stockwell, M.D., M.P.H.
“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.”