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Can Text Messages Help Boost Vaccine Appointments?

Ownership language showed an additional boost in appointment and vaccination rates.

A recent study conducted by investigators from Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with the University of California, Los Angeles, has found that text messages can be an effective way to remind people to schedule their first COVID-19 vaccination appointment and also show up.

Results from the study were published in the journal Nature.

“One simple reminder, which is cost effective, could prompt people to schedule their appointment,” Silvia Saccardo, lead author on the study said. “Getting scheduled for the first does was the biggest barrier. Once scheduled, people went to the appointment and then returned for their second dose.”

For the study, the team of investigators conducted 2 large, randomized trials to try and identify which methods would help people overcome barriers to schedule a vaccination appointment and follow through with it.

The first trial participants received 1 of 4 types of text messages or no text message at all, with each group consisting of about 20,000 individuals.

Findings from this trial showed that 7.2% of participants went without a reminder. Of those who received a reminder, 13.2% went to their appointment, which was an increase of 84.33%. It was also observed that the text messages accelerated how quickly the appointments were scheduled and attended.

The second trial consisted of the individuals who did not schedule an appointment after the first reminder. This trial consisted of 67,000 participants who were divided into 2 groups. One group received an additional reminder while the other group did not.

This trial showed that a second reminder boosted appointments being scheduled within 6 days by 1.65%.

“The Delta variant is driving increased COVID infections across the globe, and currently in the United States more than 97% of COVID related hospitalizations are in unvaccinated people,” Daniel M. Croymans, co-author on the study said. “Our study highlights that marrying text messaging, a widely accessible technology, alongside behavioral science, may help deliver messages that encourage others to get vaccinated – helping to protect our community and our economy.”