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Parents Who Are Reminded Are more likely to Vaccinate their Children during Pandemics

Update Date: Nov 19, 2013 07:54 AM EST

Even though vaccines, such as the influenza vaccination, are recommended for people of all ages, children and seniors are advised to get immunized because of their relatively weaker immune systems. Vaccinations are also important especially when a pandemic starts. In a new study conducted at the University of Michigan, researchers reported that using the state immunization registry as a tool to promote flu vaccines can be effective.

For this study, the researchers worked with the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) during the H1N1 pandemic between 2009 and 2010. The researchers analyzed the effectiveness of the statewide influenza vaccination reminder campaign, which was enforced using the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR). The program mailed letters to parents to remind them to get vaccinated. The program focused on parents who had children with chronic health conditions, such as asthma or diabetes.

Not only did the letter encourage parents to get their children vaccinated, it also informed parents of their children's risk of getting the flu due to their health conditions as well as the potential complications that could arise once their children caught the flu virus. Base from these results, the researchers found that the vaccination rates for the children of parents who received reminder letters were higher than children whose parents never got reminder letters.

"Immunization registries like MCIR are important public health tools. This study shows the value of using immunization registries to prompt parents of children with a chronic condition to get that child vaccinated," said Kevin Dombkowski, Research Associate Professor with the University of Michigan's Child Health Evaluation and Research (CHEAR) Unit according to Medical Xpress. "This is an important illustration of public health preparedness."

Dombkowski, added, "MDCH officials recognized the importance of being able to identify these high-risk kids in the event of a severe influenza season, so as a consequence, MCIR was ready when the H1N1 pandemic hit in 2009. All kids 6 months and older should receive flu vaccine each season, but those with chronic conditions are considered priority cases during pandemics or times of vaccine shortages."

The study was published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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