As less people read the mail or tune in to traditional broadcast outlets, the nature of a successful PSA is changing.
A study of over 9,000 urban minority children shows that sending text messages to their parents can increase the number of children who receive flu vaccinations.
The increase was modest, with the flu vaccination rate rising from 39.9 percent to 43.6 percent. Among parents who actually received the text messages, the vaccination rate rose to 46.3 percent.
Some people even described the text messages as an angel on their shoulder.
Text messaging is becoming more and more valuable as a health tool. In a 2010 study, personalized text messages more than doubled the success of cigarette smokers who were trying to break the habit. Some people even described the text messages as an angel on their shoulder. And while the results from the flu study aren't as striking, they show more success than traditional mail and phone reminders have at increasing the vaccination rate.
Despite urging from the American Academy of Pediatrics, people, especially children, still aren't getting their yearly flu shot. The CDC estimates that only 51 percent of children and adolescents six months to 17 years old were vaccinated in the 2010-2011 flu season. And flu vaccination rates in the past have been even lower in low-income areas. Traditional vaccine reminders have been largely ineffective at raising this rate.