For those who work in a field related to immunizations, every month seems like “immunization awareness month,” so you might wonder why do we have a national awareness campaign about vaccines for the whole month every August?
The reality is that most people do not spend as much time thinking about vaccines as we do. Many of them only think about vaccines during a moment of collective public concern (e.g., Zika, Ebola, SARS, etc.) or when they or a family member need a vaccine. We also know that even when a vaccine is due, the focus is probably more about fitting the appointment into their busy schedules or discussing their concerns related to vaccine safety.
Indeed, National Immunization Awareness Month (NIAM) provides us with an opportunity to change the discussion — it gives us an opportunity to celebrate vaccines and everything that they’ve done to make children healthier:
- More children survive into adulthood.
- More adults live without physical handicaps resulting from childhood diseases.
- And, more grandparents live to enjoy grandchildren — and even great-grandchildren.
This is not an accident, and it is in part due to the success of vaccines, so in August, let’s celebrate this success!
Celebrate with your staff and colleagues:
- Celebrate all you do as a team to keep your patients healthy and your vaccines viable. Whether an e-card, a surprise bagel break, or an office lunch, celebrate your collective efforts.
- Hold a vaccine trivia contest with a special treat for the winner. (Use the VEC’s "Just the Vax" trivia game or make questions based on vaccine information relevant in your practice setting.)
- Hold a vaccine-dedicated staff meeting to make sure all questions are answered and everyone is approaching vaccine discussions in the same manner.
Celebrate with your patients and their families:
- Devote a bulletin board or website home page to a positive vaccine message.
- Add a vaccine-positive message to your phone message.
- Order a special treat for patients who are immunized during the celebration.
- Stock your waiting area or lending library with new vaccine-related books.
Celebrate with your community:
For more ideas, check out the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s NIAM-dedicated webpage.
Even if it is too late to celebrate in August, make your own celebration. It is easy to get caught up in recording VIS dates, maintaining temperature logs and checking expiration dates. Make sure you — and your colleagues — take some time each year to remember the big picture and celebrate the success of vaccines and your role in that success.