A study revealed that automated Short Message Service (SMS) reminders to parents of infants needing vaccines worked effectively especially during the COVID lockdowns and quarantine periods.
“Though more suited for urban areas, …with proper implementation and continued evaluation, it (SMS reminders) has the capacity to improve the National Immunization Program,” the study said.
The study “Immunize Baguio” was conducted by Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) pediatrician Dr. Karla Fokno-Rigos with supervision of Dr. Elaine Corpus, head of Pediatrics.
Now assigned at the Benguet General Hospital (BeGH), Dr. Rigos hopes to duplicate the same study at BeGH for confirmation.
Vaccines for Pneumonia, Polio, Diptheria, Tetanus and Hepa-B; for infants from zero to three or four months with 530 population were the subjects of the study.
The electronic program and application was developed by Information Technology (IT) personnel of the BGHMC and fully funded by the Department of Health (DOH), Dr. Corpus and Dr. Rigos said during the City Hall hour media forum last Wednesday.
Infant vaccinations were not done at the right time in the past due to intermittent travel restrictions and quarantine/lockdowns, but were completed, the study shows.
Parents or guardians complied with SMS reminders sent to them three times at 6, 10 and 14 weeks. However, the decreased number of vaccination or what is considered vaccination drop-out is discernible.
The study recommends the expansion of “Immunize Baguio,” in all health centers within Baguio and neighboring provinces. According to Dr. Rigos, only ten of the 16 city health districts were study sites: Atok Trail, Engineers Hill, Campo Filipino, Asin, Loakan, Lucban, Scout Barrio, Quirino Hill, Mines View and Pacdal health center. Materials were provided and health care workers (HCWs) were trained on the procedures, Dr. Rigos said.
Partnership between the DOH and the local government unit allows the expansion of telecommunication coverage and digital instruments in health centers as auxiliary to standard practice, the study abstract again states.
The program is also recommended for modification into the current electronic medical record and health information system of DOH; the Rural Health Units, Health Centers and Barangay health Stations.
Dr. Corpus reminded the public that vaccines are one of the most important preventive measures for infectious but vaccine-preventable diseases. The protection for the vacinee works even after vaccination, thus works as herd immunity and for community protection as well, she added.
Parents are thus reminded that vaccines shall be available to their children at the health centers to boost immunity against Measles, Rubella and Polio. Awareness is the key, Dr. Corpus said, with information that presently there are 47 cases of measles in Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal and Quezon (CALABARZON).