It may seem early, but September is actually the ideal time to start promoting influenza immunization programs in your urgent care center. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that all patients 6-months-old and above receive a flu shot by the end of October. In addition to traditional promotional channels like local advertising and social media, don’t forget the value of good old-fashioned human contact; let patients who come in for everyday complaints that you’ll be offering flu shots. However you promote your program, here are a few points from the CDC to keep in mind:
- October is the best time to get a flu shot because patients are more likely to be protected for the duration of the season, which ends in May. If they haven’t had one by Halloween, it’s still important to get immunized because the highest rate of incidence typically occurs in colder months.
- The CDC recommends that only injectable flu vaccine be used, having withdrawn earlier recommendations for inhaled FluMist because it’s been found ineffective. (The American Academy of Pediatrics has done the same.)
- Special effort should be made with Native American and Alaska Native children, as well as those with conditions that increase the risk of complications including asthma, diabetes, and neurodevelopmental disorders.
- Healthcare personnel and child care providers are at higher risk for getting the flu than most people.
- Women who are pregnant should get a flu shot for both themselves and their unborn child. The same goes for women considering pregnancy, breastfeeding, or in the postpartum period.
- The flu kills between 3,300 and 49,000 people each year; children and the elderly are most vulnerable. The wide range is due to the fact that flu is often an underlying, as opposed to the primary, cause of death (especially in adults).