Aims, rational/objectives: Delayed vaccination has been a substantial problem in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. It results in babies missing out on protection when they are youngest and most vulnerable. In addition, rotavirus vaccine has age cut-offs, so babies who are late may not be able to receive catch-up vaccines. So called ‘pre-calling’–a reminder before a dose is due–is an effective way of reducing vaccination delays in Indigenous children. Pre-call innovation has been adopted in the development of an SMS reminder system ‘VaxSMST’, to be used by immunisation service providers. A priority of VaxSMST development was to ensure Aboriginal engagement. To do this an Aboriginal focus was applied at every stage.
Process: Stakeholder engagement: conversations were held with The National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation, their peak bodies in Queensland, South Australian and Victoria, all state government departments of health, various immunisation service providers, the National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance. These meetings established that improving immunisation rates for Aboriginal children was a priority, helped develop culturally sensitive communications, provided advice regarding imagery and communication, and fed back that mobile phone usage among young Aboriginal mums and families is high.
Software development: Continued contact with established and new stakeholders during the software design stage allowed for appropriate design and functionality. Feedback was required for each draft that was made. A culturally sensitive photographer was sourced for software images. An Aboriginal identification ‘tick box’ was included which linked through to relevant State based immunisation messages.
Clinical trial: When it was time to trial the software, an Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Service was recruited alongside General Practice and Community Health Centres. Leading to Aboriginal Health Research Ethics Committees approval, submissions, and a culturally appropriate ‘community strategy’ being designed.
Conclusion: Strong Aboriginal stakeholder engagement from conception to completion of new ‘mainstream’ software development has resulted in the successful inclusion of Aboriginal identification and Aboriginal specific immunisation messages.