This video will make your father want his pneumonia vaccine

Gary Finnegan

Gary Finnegan

November 12th, 2017

Gary Finnegan

‘Watching it before seeing the doctor triples likelihood patients will get vaccine’

‘Are you afraid of pneumonia? You should be. Ever year pneumonia kills seven times more people aged 65 and older than car accidents.’

It’s a stark opening line, designed to grab the attention of older people at risk of pneumococcal disease – a vaccine-preventable form of pneumonia caused by a bacterium.

The video explains how the disease spreads, who can catch it and why vaccines are not just for kids.

‘The good news is that the pneumococcal vaccine can protect you from dying from pneumonia,’ it says. ‘Just as you got vaccinated as a child to protect yourself, you need to receive important, life-saving vaccines as an adult’.

Along with a healthy dose of science, the video features a personal story from a man who lost his wife to pneumonia – a women who had been healthy until struck down by the disease. He explains how, despite being active and eating well (both crucial to healthy ageing), her defence against pneumonia was sub-optimal because she had not been vaccinated.

Tried and tested

The simple two-minute video was used by scientists at Northwestern University, Chicago, who were exploring ways to improve uptake of the pneumococcal vaccine. Uptake is seen as being too low in the US where around 60% of older people, for whom the vaccine is recommended, have the jab.

In Europe, it is even worse. A nine-country study published last year revealed major misconceptions about pneumonia. Most Europeans say they have heard of the disease but fewer than one third knew it was vaccine-preventable and just one in five knew it was a lung disease.

But videos like the one used in the US research could help to turn the tide. When sent to patients prior to their consultation with a health professional, it tripled the likelihood that they would get the vaccine.

‘This approach demonstrates a new way for patients to receive effective, efficient education about preventive care,’ said Kenzie A. Cameron, the principal investigator and a research associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

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