The push to boost immunisation rates in Australia

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SMS Helps Immunization Rates

Vaccines currently save an estimated 2-3 million lives a year across the globe. They are also popularly considered one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions of all time.

Despite this, a movement of parents conscientiously objecting to vaccinating their kids has gained recent media attention. In the news recently, you may have seen the Australian government’s plans to combat this problem.

A new scheme, “No Jab, No Pay”, will see cuts to the welfare payments of parents who refuse to have their children vaccinated. Thousands of families could lose payments, with the government estimating about 39,000 children under seven have not received immunisation due to their parents beliefs.

Vaccine objectors have various concerns about the possible effects of immunisation. Among the most common concerns of objectors is the belief that some vaccines can cause developmental problems, including autism. However, the link between autism and vaccines has been discredited by scientific research and the initial study that suggested a connection has been withdrawn by the journal that published it. Other parents object to immunisation for religious reasons.

The Australian Medical Association (AMA), representing 27,000 Aussie doctors, supports the government’s plan. With AMA president Dr Brian Owler stating, “whatever we can do to increase vaccination rates is important.”

While the effectiveness of the federal government’s new plan remains to be seen, health professionals have seen a lot of success promoting vaccination with more traditional methods.

SMS reminders have proved to improve vaccination rates in certain settings. According to a recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association

  • Immunisation registry-linked text messaging increased influenza vaccination coverage
  • Text messages reach large groups at a low cost and can be targeted to specific populations
  • Text messages can be linked to electronic health records easily using available software packages

If you are a health practitioner that would like to discuss implementing SMS reminder strategies to improve vaccination rates, give us a call on 1300 764 946, and talk to one of our experts today!

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