Rite Aid becomes first text4baby national retail partner

One of the largest drugstore chains in the country has partnered with text4baby, the free mobile information service designed to promote maternal and child health through text messaging. According to an announcement, Rite Aid is the first national retail partner of text4baby, the nation's largest mobile health information service, reaching more than 600,000 mothers.

As part of the partnership, Rite Aid announced that it will provide 10,000 free flu shots to text4baby mothers this flu season. Starting October 15, text4baby will notify those enrolled in the program about the availability of free flu shots in 31 states and the District of Columbia from Rite Aid. Mothers who wish to receive a flu shot will text a reply and receive a unique code to use at any Rite Aid to redeem their free flu shot.

To get the word out, Rite Aid will use circular ads, in-store displays and social media to educate pregnant women and new mothers about text4baby. In addition, in Rite Aid wellness stores, Wellness Ambassadors will provide information on the program and help mothers enroll.

"We are excited that Rite Aid is joining us not only to expand the reach of text4baby, but also most importantly, to help mothers, mothers-to-be and their babies stay healthy during their pregnancy and beyond," said Sarah Colamarino, Johnson & Johnson vice president of strategic partnerships, in a written statement. "Our long-standing relationship and shared interest in helping women and children live healthier lives makes Rite Aid a perfect partner."

Launched in February 2010,  The program's content, which provides pregnant women and new moms with critical health and safety information via text message including information about immunization, nutrition, birth defect prevention, and safe sleep, is developed by health experts from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, March of Dimes, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

In May, results of a year-long evaluation of text4baby found the program to be effective. The findings were based on a survey developed by researchers from the National Latino Research Center at California State University San Marcos and the University of California San Diego, with support from the Alliance Healthcare Foundation, which was administered to 631 unique text4baby users in San Diego. The survey results "indicate that text4baby is increasing users' health knowledge, facilitating interaction with health providers, reminding them of their appointments and immunizations, and improving access to health services."

The study supported findings from the first randomized evaluation of the U.S.-based text4baby mHealth program. The pilot study published in late November 2012 found texting to be a "promising program" for new mothers in which "exposure to the text messages was associated with changes in specific beliefs targeted by the messages."

To learn more:
- read the announcement