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How the U.S. Can Distribute the COVID Vaccine Effectively Through Trusted Mobile Messaging

Among the biggest challenges that governments will face is how to vaccinate as many people as possible quickly and safely so that the world can get back to normal … or whatever normal will look like this year

by Mohamed Odah, CTO at Soprano Design / January 7, 2021

With COVID-19 vaccines now being distributed, 2021 is poised to be a year of recovery. Among the biggest challenges that governments will face is how to vaccinate as many people as possible quickly and safely so that the world can get back to normal … or whatever normal will look like this year.

One tool that will be critical in the successful deployment of COVID-19 vaccines is mobile messaging. SMS messaging is used across industries by organizations to better engage their audiences, and it has played a significant role in the success of previous vaccination programs. The ubiquity of mobile phones has been an important factor in enabling the broadest population reach with vaccination programs, including those groups that may have challenges around broadband access, income and even homelessness. It will be a big part of this vaccination effort as well, for both education and logistics.

A robust education effort will be needed because one big challenge facing deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine is trust. In the current information environment, it can be hard to sort out what is true from what is speculation or outright misinformation.

Mobile messaging can play a critical role in building trust in the COVID vaccine for three reasons. First, it’s a rapid and direct way to get critical information from a sender to a recipient. Second, if someone has opted in to receiving text messages from an agency or healthcare provider, they are able to verify that what they are getting is from a trusted source. Finally, a direct message from a trusted source means it bypasses media or third-party filters.

Logistically, mobile messaging will be important as well. The Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) is using mobile messaging for safety monitoring through their Vaccine Safety Assessment for Essential workers (V-SAFE) program, a smartphone-based active surveillance program for early vaccine recipients. This program is part of the existing Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS), which was established in 1990 as a national early warning system to detect possible safety problems in U.S.-licensed vaccines and is co-managed by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The V-SAFE program will use contact information collected from the registration process for vaccination of essential workers to conduct post-vaccination health checks via text message and email - daily in the first week after someone receives the vaccine and then weekly thereafter for six weeks. If a recipient reports an adverse reaction, it will be reported to VAERS.

Mobile messaging will also be used to manage the implementation of vaccines. SMS for appointment reminders is already an essential tool for healthcare organizations because it significantly reduces no-show rates. But specifically, for COVID-19 vaccines, SMS reminders will also be critical to ensure that the second dose of the vaccine is administered within the specified timeframe. The CDC is encouraging public health programs and healthcare organizations to consider the use of automated voice and SMS text message-based platforms for notifications and second-dose reminders.

The communication provided through mobile messaging will be a critical part in deploying the vaccine to as many people as possible as quickly as possible and as safely as possible. It can help create trust through education, and it can help manage the complex logistics of getting entire populations vaccinated quickly and safely. COVID-19 vaccines are here, and they are providing much needed hope in getting us back to the things we cherish.

To learn more about mobile messaging’s role in COVID-19 vaccine deployment, download our whitepaper, Using Mobile Messaging to Improve COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment.

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