A report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) says a pilot program that asked parents in low-income communities to get their children vaccinated succeeded in increasing the percentage of people who received shots. The way they asked? Text messaging.
Parents of 9,213 children and adolescents received five text messages a week during the 2010-2011 cold and flu season. The messages gave parents a link to a flu shot registration website, educational material and information about Saturday clinics.
Of that initial group, 7,574 had not received the influenza vaccine before the study start date. As of March 31, 2011, 43.6 percent of children and adolescents in the study group whose parents were texted received shots compared to 39.9 percent of children whose parents did not receive texts.
This method was extremely out-of-the-box because very rarely do you get general information via text. Usually, texts come from people you know or companies trying to sell you something.
According to the study, 91 percent of Americans have a cell phone, and nearly all cell phones these days support text messaging. For reaching under-served and low-income populations, text messaging is an effective medium of communication. Texting has a 100 percent read rate and tends to have an extremely high response rate, too.