22861 From Routine to Extreme: Promoting H1N1 Vaccine

Wednesday, April 21, 2010: 2:05 PM
Regency Ballroom VII
Michele Roberts, MPH, CHES , Health Promotion and Communication Manager, Washington State Department of Health
Tim Church, BA , Director of Communications, Washington State Department of Health

Background: Washington expects to get 3.5 million doses of vaccine, enough for more than 50 percent of the population. It’s a huge communications challenge to encourage a large part of the public to be vaccinated and highlight the importance of priority groups being vaccinated.

Setting: Statewide

Population: Adults ages 18-49, emphasizing mothers who often make family health care decisions, and minority populations including Hispanics, American Indians, and African Americans.

Project Description: Washington promoted H1N1 vaccination and good health habits by using both routine communication activities in new ways and using mass media and social media campaigns. Initiative messages were tailored to multiple target audiences including providers, parents, general public, and ethnic and racial subgroups. H1N1 information was added in routine Immunization Registry reminder mailings to 336,000 families with young children and in license renewal mailings to 90,000 health care providers. TV ads used state-of-the-art technology to show what happens when a person doesn’t cover their mouth and nose when they sneeze. Radio spots featured real people telling their H1N1 experiences. Other activities included an extensive H1N1 Web site with resources targeted to specific audiences, health education materials and social media (Twitter, YouTube). The state also partnered with medical and hospital associations, community foundations, local health and other stakeholders on public awareness activities.

Results/Lessons Learned:Creative thinking about routine communication channels resulted in ongoing strategies to promote vaccine to hundreds of thousands of people at minimal cost. These routine activities, and partnerships, maximized limited resources and enhanced efforts to increase immunization rates. They can be used in the future to promote influenza and other immunizations. Statewide immunization registries, hotlines, and Web sites are useful in targeting audiences and evaluating results of promotional efforts. Results of consumer polls to gather data on public knowledge and media impressions will be discussed.