October 2, 2023

A study revealed that automated short message service (SMS) reminders to parents of infants needing vaccines worked well especially during the Covid-19 lockdown and quarantine periods.

“Though more suited for urban areas, with proper implementation and continued evaluation, SMS reminders have the capacity to improve the National Immunization Program,” the vaccination study abstract stated.

The study entitled “Immunize Baguio” was done at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center by Dr. Karla Rigos as supervised by Dr. Elaine Corpuz, head of Pediatrics at BGHMC.

Now assigned at the Benguet General Hospital, Rigos hopes to duplicate the same study for statistical and geographic condition confirmation.

Vaccines for pneumonia, polio, diptheria, tetanus and hepa-B for 530 infants zero to three or four months old were the subjects of the study. 

The electronic program and application was developed by the BGHMC Information Technology personnel and fully funded by the Department of Health.

Infant vaccinations were not done as timely 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 six, 10, and 14 weeks.

However, the decreased number of vaccination or what is considered vaccination dropout is discernible.

The study recommended the expansion of Immunize Baguio in all health centers within Baguio and neighboring provinces.

Rigos said 10 of the 16 city health districts were study sites, namely Atok Trail, Engineers Hill, Campo Filipino, Asin, Loakan, Lucban, Scout Barrio, Quirino Hill, Mines View and Pacdal health centers. Materials were provided and health care workers were trained on the procedures.

The study stated 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 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.

Corpuz reminded the public that vaccines are one of the most important preventive measures for infectious but vaccine-preventable diseases. The protection for the vaccine works even after vaccination, thus works as herd immunity and for community protection as well, she added.

Parents are reminded vaccines will be available to their children at the health centers to boost immunity against measles, rubella, and polio.

Health districts’ health care workers may be contacted for any information, Corpuz said. – Julie G. Fianza