Flu vaccine advertising: does it work?

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

August 29th, 2013

Gary Finnegan

‘Doctors in the UK gearing up for the annual flu season will be expected to vaccinate around 75% of at-risk patients, as well as two- and three-year olds as part of the rollout of a new childhood flu immunisation scheme.’

Flu-vaccine-advertisingHowever, it appears they will not be supported by a national flu vaccination advertising campaign as health authorities are questioning the impact of mass media publicity on uptake rates.

Instead, they will reply on individual phone calls and emails to encourage those in risk groups – such as older people, pregnant women, and people with chronic illnesses – to be immunised.

Public Health England says there is a “lack of evidence” showing that annual advertising campaigns have any positive effect on seasonal flu vaccination uptake rates. They argue that while campaigns may play a role in raising awareness of the vaccine, this has a limited impact on actual immunisation levels.

The authorities say GPs should educate their patients about vaccination and hand hygiene through patient consultations, letters, emails and electronic booking systems. “Proactive and personalised invitations from GPs to patients” are free and more likely to be effective, according to policymakers.

But GPs are unconvinced. The British Medical Association’s GP committee says it will be an uphill battle to reach risk groups such as older people and pregnant women without the support of a mass media awareness drive. Will you have the annual flu vaccine?

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