Reminders for parents or guardians about vaccination schedule do work and improve rates, according to a Cochrane Review.

The researchers focused on looking at the common reasons why people miss their vaccination schedule such as simply forgetting, missing appointments, not knowing schedules or having concerns, and found that simple reminders work.  

“The Cochrane researchers found that reminder and recall systems increase the number of children and adults receiving any kind of immunization,” according to a release.

Reminders are when vaccinations are due, and recalls are when vaccines are overdue and both can be sent through letters, postcards, telephone calls, computerized telephone call or text messaging, according to the researchers.

When he returned as Cabinet official, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III lamented the drop in vaccination coverage rate and vowed the health agency will double efforts to improve this in 2018. The World Health Organization has set a standard of 85 percent coverage rate, which the Philippines had achieved in 2005. The numbers, however, dropped significantly  and was at just 69 percent in 2016.

Health workers in localities say it is part of their responsibility to go house-to-house and remind residents it is time for their shots, a task that takes up tremendous time and resources, which they rarely have. But it is the only then can they achieve their target census. 

Reminders, apparently, are key to high vaccination coverage rates and this was proved by the Cochrane Review.

The review involved looking at 75 studies from 10 countries. Fifty-five of these studies had 138,625 children, adolescents and adults as participants.

Among the studies reviewed, 29 involved reminders for routine immunization for infants and children such as MMR and polio, 12 studies were on influenza vaccination among adults, another 12 on adolescent immunization, five studies on tetanus and Hepatitis B, and five on influenza vaccination among children.

The studies compared vaccination rates of those who were given reminders and those who did not receive reminders.

“Based on the results from combining studies in adults and children, about eight percent more people received a vaccination following a reminder compared with no reminder,” the researchers noted.

The same holds true for both children and adult when analyzed separately.

“There is high quality evidence that postcards, text messages and computerized telephone calls are effective methods for delivering reminders,” the researchers concluded.

Whether or not the DOH will take its cue from this review and implement a similar scheme, it has set a goal of increasing vaccination coverage to 95 percent. This was announced during the 2017 Philippine National Immunization Conference held in November last year. MIMS