imYOUnize: A Multifunctional Mobile Application Helping Low-Income Families Get Vaccinated Through Every Step of the Process
Authors: Saachi Datta, Ana Beatriz Rabelo Evangelista, Khushman Kaur Bhullar
University of Pennsylvania, University of São Paulo Medical School, Sri Guru Ramdas University of Health Sciences
IMPORTANCE: In 2020, there was an alarming decrease of 14% in infant vaccination rates compared to 2019, leaving populations vulnerable to the growing risk of vaccine-preventable diseases. Expanding coverage and acceptability for low socioeconomic populations is needed to promote vaccinations amongst our most vulnerable populations.
OBJECTIVE: An intervention is required that connects vulnerable populations to vaccine clinics to promote equal access to healthcare, playing a crucial role now, and in the future, to save millions of children’s lives.
EVIDENCE REVIEW: In this meta-analysis, we identify key barriers to vaccinations in low socioeconomic populations and propose follow-up solutions. WHO estimates that at least 10 million deaths were prevented between 2010 and 2015 due to vaccinations worldwide. Vaccination rates in vulnerable communities are lower, increasing their risk of vaccine-preventable diseases outbreaks. FINDINGS: Vaccines are a safe, cost-effective way to improve resilience of community health systems to infections. Barriers to access include scattered records, transportation, and vaccine hesitancy which can be addressed by three “A’s of Access’: Accessibility, Acceptability, and Accommodation. Using subsidized ride-share services, patients can be matched with the closest, least congested, free clinic. Behavior change interventions can change ‘ability’ of the patients in receiving vaccines. Acceptability through transportation-facilitation, notifications, and incentivisation programs has been proven to increase vaccine rates. Organizing available resources with an optimizing software sequence considers the needs of both the patient and free clinic providers through an AI-driven platform for accommodation. Our behavior design thinking model leads to imYOUnize, a novel, needed, and all-encompassing mobile application to vaccinate in-need populations.
CONCLUSION AND RELEVANCE: imYOUnize will bring together currently under-utilized resources to promote childhood vaccinations in low-income populations. The app will have its own database, that private and government clinics can access, subsidized transportation, and incentivization programs to encourage good practices around keeping up to date with immunizations. Moreover, to combat vaccine hesitancy, the app will include comprehensive notification and education components utilizing AI tools. Partnering with local clinics, establishments, and families, imYOUnize can be particularly impactful for connecting in-need communities with free-clinics, providing the means and motivations to get families vaccinated and advance greater community health.