Influenza (flu) causes millions of illnesses, hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations, and thousands or tens of thousands of deaths each year in the United States—and people of every age, including people in good health, are at risk. So, from December 4-10, 2016, public health and healthcare agencies across the nation are celebrating National Influenza Vaccination Week (NIVW). The observance aims to highlight the importance of continuing flu vaccination through the holiday season and beyond.
Flu vaccination coverage estimates from past seasons have shown that few people get vaccinated against influenza after the end of November, even though only 40% of the U.S. population recommended to get a flu vaccine reported actually being vaccinated by the end of November. As long as flu viruses are spreading and causing illness, vaccination should continue throughout the flu season in order to protect as many people as possible against the flu.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have developed a variety of resources and activities that can help local health departments encourage communities to get the flu vaccine if they haven’t yet done so:
- Communication Resources, including print materials, web tools (widgets & banners), images, gifs, and videos.
- Digital Media Toolkit, featuring sample newsletter and social media messages, as well as guidance on participating in an NIVW Blog-a-thon! and NIVW Twitter Challenge (#PutFluInAFilm) (December 7, 11:00am-1:00pm ET).
- Media Toolkit, providing information, recommended strategies, and resources to engage media and promote seasonal flu vaccination messages.
- NIVW Data Release, scheduled for December 9 at 9:00am ET, will share early-season flu vaccination coverage estimates and estimate flu illness and hospitalization averted by vaccination for 2015-16. Check back on December 9 for a link to the report.
- NIVW Reddit Science AMA, happening here on Reddit, December 6, 2016 from 1:00-3:00 pm ET
NACCHO encourages our members to use these resources to increase flu vaccination and protect your community. And if your local health department operates a satellite or off-site vaccination clinic, check out this checklist of best practices and consider signing this pledge to commit to safe injection practices!