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Text Reminders Boost COVID-19 Vaccine Appointments

Messages that stress the accessibility of the vaccine and include 'ownership' language most effective

a person with a cell phone

MONDAY, Aug. 16, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Simple text message reminders may boost COVID-19 vaccine uptake, according to a study published online Aug. 2 in Nature.

Hengchen Dai, Ph.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues tested the impact of behavioral interventions on COVID-19 vaccine uptake through text-based reminders delivered to patients of a health care system one day (first randomized controlled trial; 93,354 participants) and eight days (second randomized controlled trial; 67,092 participants) after they received notification of vaccine eligibility.

The researchers found that the first reminder boosted appointments by 6.07 percentage points and vaccination rates by 3.57 percentage points, while the second reminder increased each by 1.65 and 1.06 percentage points, respectively. There was a greater impact observed with the first reminder when it made patients feel the vaccine was already theirs (e.g., "the vaccine has just been made available for you" and "claim your dose today"). No greater benefit was observed when combining the message with an informative video addressing vaccine hesitancy.

"One simple reminder, which is cost-effective, could prompt people to schedule their appointment," a coauthor said in a statement. "Getting scheduled for the first dose was the biggest barrier. Once scheduled, people went to the appointment and then returned for their second dose."

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