In anticipation of a double-pronged healthcare threat, the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) launched a new campaign emphasizing the importance of flu vaccinations to protect public health as the nation continues to struggle with COVID-19.
“We need to call on Americans to do what they can right now to protect themselves and to protect their loved ones, and getting their flu vaccinations is a vital part of that,” said NACDS President and CEO Steven C. Anderson, IOM, FASAE, CAE, in a press release. “Flu vaccinations are safe, effective, and easy to get, and they are available for free under many insurance plans.”
NACDS, which represents national and retail pharmacies in traditional drug stores, supermarkets, and mass retail settings, released English and Spanish video ads designed to spread the critical public health message. An online toolkit encourages patient groups, allied healthcare associations, businesses, government, and others to sign up as partners and to use the ads, polling data, and social media resources.
Recognizing that Black and Hispanic communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, NACDS made it a priority to ensure the video ads “looked like America,” according to Chris Krese, NACDS senior vice president of marketing, communications, and media relations. “If we’re going to talk about the importance of flu vaccinations, it’s really important to have a certain level of sensitivity in how those messages are communicated,” he said.
NACDS is collaborating with the Howard University College of Pharmacy and the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce to reach communities subject to disparities in healthcare. The association is also partnering with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Foundation and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, among others, to amplify the messages about flu vaccinations.
Pharmacists are within about five miles of 90 percent of Americans, according to NACDS data, which makes them uniquely positioned to educate the public about the importance of the flu shot. NACDS will factor in the number of member companies that use the materials from the campaign in measuring its success, Krese said.
A recent poll commissioned by NACDS found that 86 percent of Americans were aware of the need to wear a face mask and 93 percent knew about washing hands amid the pandemic, and yet only 67 percent were aware of the importance of getting the flu shot.
“There’s an opportunity here to raise the [perceived] level of importance of the flu vaccination,” Krese said. “We want to get it up to the same level as wearing a mask so people understand it’s something they can do to protect themselves, their loved ones, and the entire community.”