Take a Shot with the Best Flu Vaccine Programs: 3 Tips

By Andrea Powers

As we enter the last few weeks of summer, many of us are savoring one last beach trip, barbecue, and bonfire before the days start getting shorter, and kids go back to school. But as a healthcare professional, there’s another thing that August represents for me: time to start preparing for the upcoming flu season.

You might think it sounds early because most people don’t start thinking about flu until a family member or coworker becomes sick. But the single best way to protect against the flu is with an annual vaccine.

Many of our clients understand the benefits of protecting their population against the flu, and are starting to ask what they should be doing. My advice for a successful program? Incorporate these 3 proven approaches to increase the effectiveness of your vaccine program this upcoming flu season:

1. Outreach Early – Get ahead of the flu season to maximize your impact health improvement, HEDIS and Medicare Star scores and member retention. Now is the time to start a strategic mix of educational mail, email and IVR calls.

2. Provide a Call to Action – Explain the benefits of getting a flu shot using the “what’s in it for me” reasoning. By addressing that right up front, you eliminate potential barriers before they are raised.

3. Identify and Address Barriers Find out what is stopping people from getting the vaccine… “I still got the flu last year, I’m healthy so I don’t need it, it doesn’t work”. And bust those myths with cold hard facts!

Not totally convinced that barrier breaking messages work? One Silverlink client saw 20% of their members who said “no” to getting a flu shot, change their intent to ‘yes’ after listening to a barrier breaking message. Here's an example of a message that has worked well in response to individuals who push back on the vaccine because they're healthy and don't think they need it: "Even healthy people can get the flu. And it can make you sick enough to miss several days of work or school. Getting a flu shot is your best protection from losing days to illness. And it also protects those around you. Are you sure you don't want to get a flu shot this year?"

A well thought out approach and timely outreach to provide accurate information to consumers can counter excuses and go a long way in educating people that the single best way to protect against the flu is to get an annual vaccine. And make sure the education goes beyond flu vaccine barriers or excuses to include good health habits like proper hand washing, covering your mouth when sneezing, and staying home when you are sick.

The CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine for everyone 6 months of age and older as the first and most important step in protecting against this serious disease. People should begin getting vaccinated soon after flu vaccine becomes available, if possible by October, to ensure that as many people as possible are protected before flu season begins. However, as long as flu viruses are circulating in the community, it’s not too late to get vaccinated.

So start promoting flu shots early, address the barriers, educate on healthy habits, and tell your members “roll up your sleeve!” 

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Need help with your flu vaccine outreach program? Send us a note and let's talk about how Silverlink, the newest member of the Welltok family, can help.