Reminding people about vaccinations can increase rates of immunization

January 18, 2018, Wiley
Credit: CC0 Public Domain

Rates of immunization against infectious diseases in children and adults are improving, but under-vaccination remains a problem that results in vaccine-preventable deaths and illnesses. In Europe, 11,316 cases of measles were reported during 2012, and an estimated four to 50 million symptomatic cases of flu occur each year.

Reminders can be sent to patients, parents or guardians, or whole populations when vaccines are due, either because of age or other risk factors. Recalls are sent when vaccines are overdue. Reminders and recalls can be sent by letter, postcard, telephone call, computerized telephone call, or text message. They work by addressing the common reasons that immunizations may be missed, such as forgetting or missing appointments, not knowing immunization schedules, and having concerns about vaccinations. For reminders to be successful, vaccination records and contact information need to be accurate and up-to-date, the reminders need to be readable, and vaccination services need to be accessible.

A team of Cochrane researchers have updated a systematic review which summarizes the results of 75 studies from 10 countries including 55 studies involving 138, 625 children, adolescents and . Some studies contributed to more than one comparison in the review because they delivered interventions to more than one population of interest. There were 29 studies of reminders for routine immunizations in infants and children such as MMR and polio, 24 studies of influenza vaccination in adults, 12 studies of adolescent immunizations, 8 studies of routine immunizations in adults such as tetanus or hepatitis B, and 5 studies of in children. Fifty-eight studies were performed in the US, the remainder were conducted in Australasia, Europe and Africa.

The studies looked at reminders sent by letter, telephone call, computerized telephone call, text message, or a combination of all these formats, and compared these with no reminders, media-based activities aimed at promoting immunizations, or simple general-practice-based immunization awareness campaigns.

The Cochrane researchers found that reminder and recall systems increase the number of children and adults receiving any kind of immunization. Reminding people that they have an upcoming vaccination probably increases the number of who receive vaccinations. Based on the results from combining studies in adults and children, about 8% more people received a vaccination following a reminder compared with no reminder. Similar results were found in and adults when they were analysed separately. The researchers noted variation in the results of the studies and the difference in the effect of reminders could vary when used in different settings.

There is high quality evidence that postcards, text messages and computerized telephone calls are all effective methods for delivering reminders.

Lead Cochrane author, Julie Jacobson Vann from The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Nursing commented: "The evidence shows that reminding people to have vaccinations increases the number of people who receive vaccinations. All types of patient reminder and recall are likely to be effective, and reminding people over the telephone was most effective. Even a small effect of patient reminders and recalls, when scaled to a whole population, could have a large beneficial effect on public health.

"We have the technology to incorporate patient reminders and recall into routine primary care. Reminder and recall systems need to be tailored to each health service setting to maximize their effectiveness, for example person-to-person reminders are effective, but they may also be more costly than other methods."

"As technologies develop we need to consider how they can enhance reminder and recall interventions. For example, we need to learn more about the characteristics of the most effective centralized and interventions."

Explore further: Text message reminders increase rates of influenza vaccination

More information: Julie C Jacobson Vann et al, Patient reminder and recall interventions to improve immunization rates, Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (2018). DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD003941.pub3

Related Stories

Text message reminders increase rates of influenza vaccination

November 15, 2017
Text message reminders are a low-cost effective strategy for increasing rates of influenza vaccination.

Timely reminders boost childhood immunizations rates

January 7, 2013
New research from the Children's Outcomes Research Program at Children's Hospital Colorado shows that timely reminders by state or local health departments are more effective at increasing immunization rates among preschool ...

Text messaging boosts flu vaccine rates in pregnant women

January 11, 2014
A study by researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health evaluated the impact of text messaging reminders for influenza vaccine in a low-income obstetric population. The findings showed that sending text messages to ...

Text messaging reminders increase second dose influenza vaccinations in children

December 29, 2014
Researchers at the Mailman School of Public Health and Columbia University Medical Center studied the impact of text message reminders for the second dose of influenza vaccine required for many young children to protect them ...

Immunization rates improve with centralized reminder system

February 23, 2015
Childhood immunization rates would improve with a centralized notification system that reminded families when immunizations were due, according to a new study, published online by JAMA Pediatrics, developed by researchers ...

Text message alerts keep more children up-to-date with vaccinations in study

April 6, 2015
Nearly a third of all children nationwide and in Kentucky aren't up-to-date with the vaccination schedule recommended by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), but not because their parents are refusing vaccines. Evidence ...

Recommended for you

Love organic foods? Your odds for some cancers may fall

October 22, 2018
Paying extra for those pricey organic fruits and vegetables might pay off: New research suggests eating them might help you dodge a cancer diagnosis.

'Game changer' tuberculosis drug cures 9 in 10

October 22, 2018
A new treatment for a drug-resistant strain of tuberculosis can cure more than 90 percent of sufferers, according to a trial hailed Monday as a "game changer" in the fight against the global killer.

AI doctor could boost chance of survival for sepsis patients

October 22, 2018
Scientists have created an artificial intelligence system that could help treat patients with sepsis.

A topical gel that can prevent nerve damage due to spraying crops with pesticides

October 22, 2018
A team of researchers affiliated with several institutions in India has developed a topical get that can be used by farmers to prevent nerve damage due to chemical crop spraying. In their paper published in the journal Science ...

Consuming caffeine from coffee reduces incident rosacea

October 22, 2018
(HealthDay)—Caffeine intake from coffee is inversely associated with the risk for incident rosacea, according to a study published online Oct. 17 in JAMA Dermatology.

Moderate exercise before conception resulted in lower body weight, increased insulin sensitivity of offspring

October 22, 2018
Men who want to have children in the near future should consider hitting the gym.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.