Direct messaging to parents/guardians to improve adolescent immunizations

J Adolesc Health. 2015 May;56(5 Suppl):S21-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2014.11.023.


Purpose: To study the impact on adolescent immunization rates of direct messages to parents/guardians.

Methods: Electronic health record rules identified adolescents needing an immunization. Parents/guardians of adolescents were messaged via a single vendor using automated text, prerecorded voice, and/or postcard.

Results: Parents/guardians of 3,393 patients, ages 11-18 years, with one or more primary care visits in the prior 2 years, identified as needing (average of 2.04 years) a vaccination (meningococcal conjugate, human papillomavirus, or tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines) were messaged (mean age, 14 years; 50% male; 38% African-American; 23% white; 19% Hispanic; and 79% public health insurance). A total of 7,094 messages were sent: 3,334 automated voice (47%), 2,631 texts (37%), and 1,129 postcards (16%). After the first message, 865 adolescents (25.5%) received at least one vaccine. Within 24 weeks of messaging 1,324 vaccines (745 human papillomavirus; 403 meningococcal conjugate; and 176 tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis vaccines) occurred in 959 visits (83.8% physician visits and 16.2% nurse visits). Average visits generated $204 gross reimbursement for $1.77 in messaging expenses per vaccine given. No differences in immunization completion rates occurred by age, gender, race/ethnicity, or insurance type. At 24 weeks, one message was more effective than two or three messages (35.6%, 19.4%, and 24.1% effectiveness, respectively; p < .0001). Texts and postcards correlated with more vaccination visits (38.8% and 40.1%, respectively) than phone calls (31.5%; p = .04). More vaccines due led to increasing message effectiveness.

Conclusions: Automated texts, voice messages, and postcards had a significant positive effect on vaccination rates in adolescents needing vaccination and required minimal financial expenditure.

Keywords: Adolescent immunizations; Automated postcards; Automated telephone calls; Automated texting; Electronic health record; Immunization reminders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Health Services / economics
  • Child
  • Electronic Health Records
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / economics
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / methods*
  • Male
  • Parents / education*
  • Postal Service
  • Public Health / economics
  • Public Health / methods
  • Telecommunications
  • Text Messaging*
  • Vaccination*