With the cold season, comes seasonal influenza. Currently the CDC’s is reporting the highest level of widespread flu related activity in 7 years. Getting the flu can result in symptoms such as: fever, nausea and can be fatal in some cases. It is because of this that the CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease.
Some children require two doses of vaccine in one season. Yet, less than half of these children return to receive a second dose after receiving their first.
Researchers at 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 against the virus.
Children from 660 families who were in need of a second dose of influenza vaccine that season took part in the intervention; 71.9% of families thought that their child was at protected from influenza after one only dose.
The researchers found that sending text reminders was more successful than written reminders, which only generated a 57% return. Yet, the greater value to be found in customizing your message for a customer base.
Over 66% of parents that received a generic text message brought their children in for the second dose of the vaccine. Yet, 72.7% of parents that received a text that provided educational value brought their children in.
When educational information on the importance of the second dose of influenza vaccine was embedded in the text messages, there was an even greater effect than with conventional text messages that only told families when and where to go, or with written reminder only.
Parents praised the texts for 3 reasons:
- The texts reminded them to go back for the second dose
- They communicated the messages quickly and efficiently
- They were an act of someone “caring”
In fact, 60% of parents surveyed credited the texts as the main reason or part of the reason why they brought their child in for a second vaccination. Also, 70.1% said the texts encouraged them to bring their child in sooner.
Everyday actions can help prevent the spread of influenza:
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze; dispose it after use.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, or use hand sanitizer
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects, such as counter tops or doorknobs
If you are sick with flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.
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