Encourage Flu Vaccine Early, Often, and Broadly

It can be hard to motivate those who need the flu vaccine the most.

It can be hard to motivate those who need the flu vaccine the most.

To overcome this challenge, health care providers and public health officials need to adjust their communication techniques, according to an article published in the journal Vaccine.

This report from a multinational team of public health practitioners suggests that communication is a science in and of itself, and health care providers need to study how it is best received.

The authors make 5 good points:

· Messages need to be tailored to the patient’s needs and wants. Public health officials want to curtail the spread of illness, but patients are more interested in their and their family’s health, and also the personal benefits that influenza immunization can provide.

· Patients relate to personal stories, and only those trained in science and math prefer statistics. Therefore, many patients become more interested in getting vaccinated after they hear how others are affected. Sadly, death reports are motivating.

· Get reminders out through social media channels, where Americans increasingly receive their information.

· Don’t wait for the press to pick up stories. When flu outbreaks occur, health care professionals should call their local media outlets and ask them to jump on the story.

· Health care workers need to move hearts and minds by communicating continuously.

To effectively promote flu vaccination, health care professionals should use less one-direction information dissemination, and more face-to-face, text message, and social media conversation. Patients need to be able to ask questions and voice fears.

Health care workers also need to encourage participation in immunization campaigns early, often, and much more broadly than ever before.

Because messages are often lost in the barrage of notes, tweets, texts, and advertisements, it’s important for health care professionals to schedule frequent communication about the personal benefits that patients gain when they are immunized against the flu.

Communicate directly, and then repeat. If we want patients to act now, then we need to act now.