(HealthDay News) — A centralized statewide reminder system for immunizations may be a more reliable way to increase overall vaccination rates than reminders from a doctor’s office, according to a report published online Feb. 23 in JAMA Pediatrics.
The new study involved mail and/or phone contact with the parents of 18,235 children. The children were all between 19 and 35 months old and were from 15 counties in Colorado. The centralized notification system aimed to contact parents of roughly half the children via some combination of autodial calls or mail reminders. Family doctors’ offices were offered both training and financial compensation for reaching out to the other half.
In the end, the centralized system was more effective at making contact with parents, reaching 87 percent of their target group at least once. By contrast, only two doctors’ offices chose to even try, with an overall reach of 0.8 percent of the doctor-based target group. The result was a moderate uptick in the percentage of children getting their needed immunizations.
However, while vaccination rates did go up among those contacted by the centralized notification system, the huge disparity in effort didn’t translate into a big difference in actual vaccination rates, according to Allison Kempe, M.D., M.P.H., of Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora, and colleagues. Specifically, 26.9 percent of those contacted by the centralized notification system got at least one timely vaccination, compared with 21.7 percent of those contacted by the doctors’ offices. The researchers also found that 12.8 percent of the centralized notification system group got all their needed vaccines, compared with 9.3 percent among the doctor-contact group.