Improving pediatric COVID-19 vaccine uptake using an mHealth tool (MoVeUp): study protocol for a randomized, controlled trial

Russell J. McCulloh, Paul M. Darden, Jessica Snowden, Songthip Ounpraseuth, Jeannette Lee, Martina Clarke, Sophia R. Newcomer, Linda Fu, De Ann Hubberd, Jaime Baldner, Maryam Garza, Ellen Kerns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines demonstrate excellent effectiveness against infection, severe disease, and death. However, pediatric COVID-19 vaccination rates lag among individuals from rural and other medically underserved communities. The research objective of the current protocol is to determine the effectiveness of a vaccine communication mobile health (mHealth) application (app) on parental decisions to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. Methods: Custodial parents/caregivers with ≥ 1 child eligible for COVID-19 vaccination who have not yet received the vaccine will be randomized to download one of two mHealth apps. The intervention app will address logistical and motivational barriers to pediatric COVID-19 vaccination. Participants will receive eight weekly push notifications followed by two monthly push notifications (cues to action) regarding vaccinating their child. Through branching logic, users will access customized content based on their locality, degree of rurality-urbanicity, primary language (English/Spanish), race/ethnicity, and child’s age to address COVID-19 vaccine knowledge and confidence gaps. The control app will provide push notifications and information on general pediatric health and infection prevention and mitigation strategies based on recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The primary outcome is the proportion of children who complete COVID-19 vaccination series. Secondary outcomes include the proportion of children who receive ≥ 1 dose of COVID-19 vaccine and changes in parent/caregiver scores from baseline to immediately post-intervention on the modified WHO SAGE Vaccine Hesitancy Scale adapted for the COVID-19 vaccine. Discussion: The COVID-19 pandemic inflicts disproportionate harm on individuals from underserved communities, including those in rural settings. Maximizing vaccine uptake in these communities will decrease infection rates, severe illness, and death. Given that most US families from these communities use smart phones, mHealth interventions hold the promise of broad uptake. Bundling multiple mHealth vaccine uptake interventions into a single app may maximize the impact of deploying such a tool to increase COVID-19 vaccination. The new knowledge to be gained from this study will directly inform future efforts to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates across diverse settings and provide an evidentiary base for app-based vaccine communication tools that can be adapted to future vaccine-deployment efforts. Clinical trials registration: NCT05386355. Registered on May 23, 2022.

Original languageEnglish
Article number911
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Mobile health
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Vaccination
  • Vaccine confidence
  • Vaccine hesitancy
  • mHealth


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