Believe it or it not, even with temperatures hovering in the 90's across the country, it is time to start thinking about getting flu vaccines. You heard it here first!
Our office and many other doctors offices across the country are opening up their first shipments of flu vaccine and I have already immunized some children and adolescents. I am also happy that I have vaccine to give my college aged students as they get ready to depart for dorm life and close quarters. In my own experience I often hear them tell me, I am just too busy to get my vaccine, which is not an acceptable excuse, so better to immunize them before they even leave for college.
Interestingly as well, I just finished reading an article in JAMA that looked at using text messaging as a way of reminding parents that it is time to immunize their children against flu. The study was conducted during the 2010-2011 flu season in which 5 weekly text messages were sent to parents to remind them of the importance of giving flu vaccine to their children. The results showed that by the end of the influenza season there was an approximately 4% increase in vaccination rates in the group that received text messages as compared to the control group. The impact in this study was greater for younger children than for adolescents. (same as I see in my own practice).
This study may be of value as more people use cell phones than land line home phones, and physicians and medical institutions need to look at new forms of communication to reach out to patients. Other forms of social media such as Facebook and Twitter may also play a role in increasing immunization rates and overall health care. Even a small increase in immunization rates, as in this study, may impact more people than thought due to herd immunity associated with vaccinating.
So, I think I will use all of the social media I have available to get out the message to get your flu shots!! Follow The Kid's Doctor Facebook and Twitter during this season and I will keep reminding you to get that flu vaccine. It is not too early to start!