What: As the temperature dips, people begin bundling up in hats and gloves. But colder weather doesn’t just signify the start of winter, it also means it’s time to get the hand sanitizer out as cold and flu season gets underway. This year, remember to get your flu vaccine during National Influenza Vaccination Week.
Background: National Influenza Vaccination Week is a national observance that was established to stress the importance of flu vaccination. Flu season in the U.S. lasts into the spring, so this event encourages people to get vaccinated even after the holidays. The flu vaccine can now be given through both an injection and a nasal mist, so those who fear needles may be vaccinated without the fear of a shot.
Story Pitch: There are a number of groups and organizations that can use this week to prepare for flu season. Producers and retailers of hand soap, sanitizer, cleaning products and tissue can campaign around this event, while daycare providers, schools and colleges may also promote the importance of proper hand washing and sanitation. Colleges especially may encourage their students, who oftentimes live in close quarters, to protect themselves against the flu through both vaccines and other preventative measures. Doctors and hospitals can encourage patients to partake in vaccines and stress the various symptoms of influenza, ensuring patients are well-informed.
Story Hook: According to the American Lung Association, influenza and pneumonia combined are the eighth leading cause of death among all Americans, and the seventh leading cause of death among all Americans over 65. Consider the following when you make your pitch:
- What are some of the major symptoms of influenza?
- What other preventative measures, besides the vaccination, can be taken in order to avoid the flu?
- What age groups does the flu affect the most?
- How early in the season should a person get the influenza vaccination?
- What are some of the common side effects of the influenza vaccination?
Tips: A pharmacist or doctor who regularly dispenses the influenza vaccination can discuss the common side effects of the vaccine as well as the importance of getting vaccinated. Additionally, a school that provides free flu vaccinations can provide insight into children and parent reactions regarding the flu vaccine. Meanwhile, a parent who believes the vaccine is essential to her child’s health would add a human interest element to the story.
Centers for Disease Control
Department of Health and Human Services
Food and Drug Administration
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease
–Researched, compiled & written by Kimberly Cooper
Event Dates from CHASE’S Calendar of Events