August is National Immunization Awareness Month. It’s the perfect time to discuss immunizations with patients who come in to pick up their regular prescriptions. Many people are under the impression that vaccines are just for children, but the fact is that adults are just as susceptible to many conditions. Vaccinations are important year round, not just during flu season. Several immunizations, such as the tetanus shot, require boosters every 10 years. Adults who suffered chicken pox as a child will benefit from a shingles vaccination.
Use Weekly Toolkits in Your Pharmacy
The United States Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) has online tool kits for each week in August to help doctors and pharmacists raise awareness about immunizations.
August 3-9 focuses on “A Healthy Start” and helps highlight the importance of providing newborns and young children protection from serious disease. Proper vaccination schedules from birth and beyond protect children from 14 diseases before their second birthday.
August 10-16 focuses on “Back to School” and helps highlight the importance of making sure children start or go back to school with all their immunizations up-to-date.
August 17-23 focuses on “Off to the Future” and helps highlight the importance of immunizations for young adults, who may need boosters, and may want to start the HPV vaccination series.
August 24-30 focuses on “Not Just for Kids” and helps highlight the importance of vaccinations for adults, who like young adults may need boosters or vaccinations they’ve missed in the past.
Toolkits include posters, handouts, and basic information to supply to patients.
Talk to Patients
Remind parents to make sure their children, especially older children, are current with all vaccinations. Help college students make sure they are current before moving into their dorms for the year. Talk to adults, especially those who work in health care, about the immunizations they may need. Remind them flu season is coming up, and flu shots are required every year. Talk to pregnant women about the importance of certain vaccinations throughout the course of pregnancy.
Run Outreach Campaigns
Pharmacies can reach more people with outreach campaigns on social media, as well. The CDC features a collection of video public service announcements, Facebook posts, and tweets that can be used in online marketing to help spread the word. Consider hosting an event at your pharmacy to provide free health screenings and discounted vaccinations.
As always, reach out to your local and state health departments to see if there are additional resources available to help promote awareness. Working together with other agencies can help expand overall reach and increase turnout to any community immunization events.