Vaccines are one of the most significant scientific breakthroughs of all time, helping to protect generations of people from infectious illnesses for the past two centuries. From the very first vaccine developed to protect against smallpox to the recent COVID-19 vaccinations, vaccines have saved tens of millions of lives. Despite this, there are still obstacles such as vaccine hesitancy, the spread of misinformation, and the lack of access to vaccines in some parts of the world.
Million Lives Lost Annually From Preventable Diseases
Vaccine-Preventable Diseases are Currently in Existence
of Children Under 1 Have Not Been Vaccinated
What is World Immunization Week?
World Immunization Week, observed in the final week of April, strives to get more people, and their communities, protected against vaccine preventable diseases. This week is so important because the WHO shares information on the importance of getting vaccinated while also providing governments around the world resources to support their vaccination programs.
World Immunization Week 2022
Each year World Immunization Week focuses on a theme. The theme for 2022, “Long Life for All”, seeks to unite people behind the concept that vaccinations enable us to pursue our dreams, protect our loved ones, and live a long, healthy life. Since the success of vaccination programs are dependent on herd immunity, increasing vaccination rates is critical to achieving long lives for all.
So now you may be asking – What role can my pharmacy play in this year’s global call to action to get more people vaccinated?
Your Pharmacy’s Role in Immunizations
Vaccine hesitancy has been around as long as vaccines have existed but has become an increasing problem in recent decades. The COVID-19 pandemic and the rapid pace of vaccine development further increased the public skepticism of becoming vaccinated. While vaccine hesitancy is not a new concept, the pandemic has shed light on the negative impacts that can be caused by widespread misinformation about vaccines.
As frontline patient educators, pharmacists have the opportunity to get in front of the vaccine narrative. The CDC encourages all healthcare providers, including pharmacists, to educate their patients about diseases that can be prevented with vaccines and to strongly recommend immunizations. Data has shown that provider recommendation is one of the greatest deciding factors for patients considering receiving vaccinations.
How Your Pharmacy Can Participate in World Immunization Week
While education on vaccinations are important year-round, World Immunization Week is a great opportunity to get the conversation started with your patients.
Provide Extra Patient Counseling on Vaccinations
While counseling your patients on the importance and efficacy of vaccines should be an ongoing priority, take some time this week to give special attention to the topic. The most common reasons for vaccine hesitancy are a lack of confidence or understanding of vaccines, complacency with the diseases they are preventing, and the inconvenience around getting vaccines. Below are tips to consider implementing in conversations with your patients where they may have hesitations around vaccines:
- Find out the patient’s specific concerns about receiving vaccines and acknowledge their fears while also addressing them with facts and safety information.
- Explain how vaccines work to build immunity in the individual and how the collective efforts help achieve herd immunity.
- Review the health implications associated with vaccine-preventable diseases for the patient and loved ones around them.
- Provide these downloadable Vaccine Information Statements (VIS) from the CDC.
- Share a personal experience with a vaccine and make your conversations friendly and personal to build patient trust.
Educate Your Community on Vaccinations
While your patients are the easiest audience to reach face-to-face, consider ways to share immunization knowledge with your local community. By making this information available to the community, you are helping improve vaccination rates not only within your pharmacy, but within your surrounding areas as well. Here are a couple of ways to spread awareness to your community:
- Host a virtual Q&A – Host a live social media session or a webinar answering common vaccine related questions. This will give you an opportunity to address safety misconceptions and explain the impact that vaccinations can have on a community.
- Get out in the community – Partner with schools, businesses, or even local news stations to get out in front of the community and advocate for World Immunization Week. You can even offer off-site vaccination clinics or set these up for a later time this year. This ensures the option to vaccinate is convenient for everyone.
Promote Your Vaccination Services
Vaccine education and awareness are huge goals of World Immunization Week. When having conversations with your patients this week, use this time to also promote vaccine services that your pharmacy offers. Here are some steps you can take to better promote your vaccination services:
- Utilize Your IVR to prompt appointments – Mention your vaccinations services in your pharmacy IVR greeting, or create a menu prompt to schedule a vaccination appointment.
- Send automated calls or texts– Send outbound calls or text messages encouraging your patients to get their COVID-19 booster shot, or remind them about other vaccination services you offer.
- Create print collateral – Create handouts or banners to hang in your pharmacy that lists the vaccinations you offer. You can also print out an updated vaccine schedule to give your patients when they inquire about more information.
- Use social media – Create a social media post with a quick video or graphic about the vaccinations available at your pharmacy.
Share Your Support for World Immunization Week on Social Media
One of the easiest ways to show your support for this year’s World Immunization Week is by joining the conversation on social media. By using this year’s hashtag, #LongLifeForAll, you are reaching a much wider audience than just your patients and participating in a global movement. Below are several resources to help you navigate through posting on social media:
- The World Immunization Week 2022 website has social media post ideas that are already drafted and are free for you to use. They even have a “tweet” button to make it super simple to share on your Twitter account with just a couple of clicks. Within their website be sure to check out the social media toolkit they created with access to graphics, wallpapers, banners and more.
- The World Health Organization also has a library of official campaign graphics and some great informational videos that can be shared on your social pages!
To maximize your social media efforts, don’t forget to use the official World Immunization Week hashtags!
- Primary Hashtag: #LongLifeForAll
- Secondary Hashtags: #WorldImmunizationWeek, #WorldImmunisationWeek
Digital Resources for Your Pharmacy
Here at Digital Pharmacist, we can assist you with bolstering up your vaccination services and streamlining the process for your pharmacy. Here are some of the services we offer that can help you talk the next steps:
Appointment Scheduling– With an efficient appointment scheduling tool, you can make the process of scheduling vaccination appointments easier for your team and your patients!
IVR – IVR can help you promote your vaccination services and also make it easier to direct vaccination inquiries. For example, you can share your website URL to direct callers to schedule appointments online or have a menu option to connect patients directly to a staff member that can assist with scheduling an appointment
Social Media– Not sure where to begin with social media? Our team of digital marketing experts can take that task off your hands and deliver your custom immunization message directly to your target audience.