Getting personal about vaccination for our Indigenous kids

Most Australian children receive a standard series of vaccinations, including influenza vaccinations, but not all. In fact, only two per cent of Aboriginal children are vaccinated against the flu.

We know we can do better, so we partnered with the Victorian Government to establish whether a more personal approach could boost these numbers.

The challenge:
Increase the number of Aboriginal children vaccinated against the flu
Department of Premier and Cabinet (Public Sector Innovation Fund and Behavioural Insights Unit) and Department of Health & Human Services

What did we do?

The study involved a multi-arm, parallel, randomised controlled trial with two intervention groups and one control group.

To evaluate whether sending a letter or pamphlet directly to parents/guardians would improve influenza vaccine uptake among children who identify as Aboriginal, a randomised controlled trial was conducted in Victoria with three groups of households; some got a letter, some got a pamphlet and some got no direct communication at all.

These were not your standard ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ letters – both the letter and the pamphlet were designed using BehaviourWorks’ INSPIRE framework; a means of improving the efficacy of written communications by using seven powerful behavioural techniques.

What did we find? 

While there was an overall increase in vaccination rates in all three groups, the letter group showed the highest rate of all. This more personalised approach, as opposed to the pamphlet, seems to be effective in increasing flu vaccination rates among Aboriginal children.

What’s next?

Subsequent studies should investigate responses to both the letter and the pamphlet to more comprehensively gauge if these direct communications effectively motivated parents and guardians to vaccinate their children. Additionally, other communication methods, like SMS, should be considered.

You can read the full paper on the trial results here.

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