A novel way to boost childhood immunizations: Use baby pictures on personalized calendars

ST. LOUIS - In the face of mounting concern over low childhood immunization rates, a Saint Louis University researcher has found a way to help urban families keep their toddlers immunized.

The research, which appears in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health, found that parents who are given a photo calendar of their baby with the dates of upcoming immunizations clearly marked, are more likely to have their children vaccinated against childhood diseases than those who don't receive calendars.

At two neighborhood health centers in St. Louis, Matthew Kreuter, Ph.D., M.P.H., provided families with a computer generated calendar featuring a color picture of their child, information specifically tailored to their family and scheduled immunization dates.

At the end of the nine month enrollment period, 82 percent of the babies whose parents received the "ABC Immunization Calendar" were up to date with their recommended immunization schedule. However, among families that did not receive calendars, only 65 percent of the children were up to date.

The study also tracked babies through the first 24 months of life. At age 24 months, 66 percent of babies whose families received calendars were up to date in their immunizations versus 47 percent of babies who did not receive calendars. In recent years, immunization rates in the City of St. Louis have ranged from 26 to 50 percent.

"Getting babies immunized is very important for families and the community. But it's also difficult for many parents because of challenges with transportation, busy work schedules and finding childcare for their other children. We want to reward their efforts with this unique reminder to keep them coming back over time," Dr. Kreuter said.

The color photograph of the baby is one of the calendar's essential features. Many participants had no professional photographs of their baby and valued the ones provided at each appoi

Contact: Nancy Solomon
Saint Louis University

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