Impact on Child Vaccination Completion Rates of Short Message Services (SMS) Reminders in Developing Countries

Pan Afr Med J. 2020 Feb 18;35(Suppl 1):12. doi: 10.11604/pamj.supp.2020.35.1.19442. eCollection 2020.


Introduction: The Expanded Programme on Immunization has, since its inception, struggled to achieve high completion rates for child immunizations. The introduction of 2YL (second year of life) immunizations presents the programme with fresh challenges to assuring high completion rates.

Methods: Using the same procedures as those employed in the 2017 article on SMS reminders, of which this is an update, I searched the NLM database for all recent articles from developing countries on SMS reminders for reduction of vaccination dropout rates. I summarized these and earlier articles in tabular form.

Results: The freshly reviewed articles are confirmatory of earlier studies which show an improvement in vaccination completion rates when SMS reminders are sent to mothers and other caregivers.

Conclusion: All of the studies reviewed were based on pilot projects. It is time, and past time, to go to scale with SMS reminders, perhaps stand alone, or as part of a larger system of electronic immunization registers. There may be potential for use of WhatsApp in dropout reduction, thus far documented only in other public health applications.

Keywords: Measles; electronic immunization registers; recall and reminder systems; routine immunization.