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Using SMS messaging to increase vaccination rates 

The Australian Government’s National Immunisation Program funds a variety of vaccines, including the three-dose Human Papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. 


In Victoria, this is delivered by local councils through secondary schools. However, many students whose parents or guardians have consented to the vaccination are not getting all three doses, partly because some of them miss the school session.


Councils don’t usually send reminders prior to school visits. However, research in similar contexts has shown it may be an effective way of improving vaccination rates.


To investigate the effectiveness of Short-Message-Service (SMS) reminders on increasing vaccination rates, BWA conducted a Randomised Controlled Trial with 4,386 students whose parents/guardians were allocated into three groups.


Methodology


Two groups received SMS messages. One message used a motivational technique while the other used self-regulatory framing (i.e. making plans). The third (control) group did not receive an SMS.

  • Text Hover
 

Results


The research revealed that the SMS reminders improved vaccination rates by 3.29% in the intervention groups.


This may sound like a small increase but is significant in the broader context and may be a useful technique in contributing to ‘herd immunity’ – the point at which enough of the population is vaccinated to eliminate a communicable disease over time. 


Partner: Department of Premier and Cabinet (Public Sector Innovation Fund) and Department of Health & Human Services.