Text messaging reminders for influenza vaccine in primary care: a cluster randomized controlled trial

As technology grows, innovations within the pharmaceutical fields also grow. A new trend in community pharmacies to incorporating technologies like handheld devices into maintaining healthcare is steadily expanding. A study was conducted to develop methods for conducting cluster randomized trials of text messaging interventions utilizing routine electronic health records at low cost and to assess the effectiveness of text messaging influenza vaccine reminders in increasing vaccine uptake in patients with chronic conditions. This study included 156 general practices who used text messaging software who had not previously used text messaging influenza vaccination reminders. Eligible patients of these practices were within 18-64 years old. 77 practices out of 156 were assigned to the intervention group (random) and 79 practices were assigned to the standard care group. The results found that text messaging increased absolute vaccine uptake by 2.62% (95% CI −0.09% to 5.33%).

This study found that text-messaging, a very low cost method, resulted in moderate improvements in influenza vaccine uptake. Although the changes were not drastic, it shows that implementation of these new intervention types could have a positive impact within the community setting. Hopefully, a better intervention method using technologies like this will grow in the future.

Herrett E., Williamson E., Staa T., et al. Text messaging reminders for influenza vaccine in primary care: a cluster randomized controlled trial. BMJ. 2016; 6

The Outlook on a Zika Virus Vaccine

Over the past few months, there has been an outbreak of a new mosquito-born virus. This Zika virus is most prevalent in Latin America and Brazil and there have been thousands of cases just in the past few months alone. While the virus only causes the person infected to feel ill for a few days (fever, skin rash, vomiting, red eyes), the main concern is the birth defects it causes among pregnant women. The virus can lead to underdeveloped heads and brain damage in newborns. The virus has led to officials to urge pregnant women to avoid traveling to more than twenty countries in these areas. It has even led to some countries recommending women avoid getting pregnant for the next two years.

This article discusses the research that is being done to come up with a vaccine for the virus. Sanofi, a French drug company has stated they will begin their research with the newly-approved vaccine for the dengue fever (another mosquito-born virus in the same family as Zika). However, researchers fear that those who are immune to the dengue virus may not respond to a similarly-structured Zika vaccine. This will pose a challenge in the development of a vaccine, and it is predicted that a vaccine will not be available for a few years still.

This is relevant to pharmacists everywhere. As the numbers of those infected grows, there will be more questions about when vaccines will be available and it is important for pharmacist to advise pregnant women against visiting these countries during the outbreak. It will be important for pharmacist to stay up to date on the virus as more research is conducted to be able to best advise customers and patients on safety.

Loftus, Peter. Roland, Denise. (2 February 2016). Drug Industry Starts Race to Develop Zika Vaccine. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from http://www.wsj.com/articles/sanofi-to-launch-zika-vaccine-research-1454421279