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CDC's Wants Bloggers to Encourage Getting Flu Shots

Today, the CDC, America's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hosted a webinar for bloggers to ask us to get the word out that people should go get their flu shots.

Over the course of 40 minutes, they gave the scientific background supporting influenza vaccine and how it helps, and how it doesn't. They strongly encouraged those affected by the delay in shipping to go get shot even in January, since it only takes 2 weeks to develop immunity, and the flu season continues through March.

A statistic I found interesting was that 40% of patients get the shot in their physician's office. That's really striking since there's a great potential for improvement, if the government and local health agencies would be willing to go to places that it's easier to get your shot. For example my family was at the mall yesterday which was so crowded that there was no parking for what felt like miles. Last year, I was so passionate about getting my friends who are parents of infants and toddlers vaccinated, that I brought flu shots (refrigerated) to holiday parties and immunized friends where they were relaxing. I immunized dozens who would otherwise would have probably gone without, rather than face the waits at flu shot clinics or having to make an appointment.

I asked the only question after the talks, which was surprising since I figured bloggers would be more outspoken. I asked if they could address why California passed legislation preventing children under 3 and pregnant women from receiving Thimerisol containing vaccine. I was pleasantly surprised that the research physician very personally revealed that for her own 2 year old, she didn't even ask what kind of vaccine was given (thimerisol containing or not). She said that not only was the initial research linking thimerisol to autism discredited, more recent research supports no link either. It was an answer tailored perfectly for a blogger, a personal anecdote showing just how much she believes her research, she applies it to her own family.

It thought the tone of the 2 presentations was overall too clinical, with terminology that was physician-oriented rather than lay blogger oriented. Specifically, I'm not only referring to the science slides, but also in slide 34, they point out medicare coverage of flu shots, which was great since they had elderbloggers on the line as well as the mommybloggers who manage their healthcare. The problem is that the terms they used to refer to the 2 different kinds of insurance was "managed care plan" and "fee for service" which means less to bloggers than the more widespread used terms "HMO / POS / EPO" and "PPO," respectively, which have the same meaning.

I also would have appreciated them alerting me to online resources that would keep me up to date on flu activity and spread through the USA. Such as the map that they showed, with Florida being the only state with reported widespread flu activity.

The CDC promised more webinars and communications with bloggers, and I'm hoping for the same. I suggested that bloggers tag their posts with technorati or del.icio.us with the terms "CDC flu webinar blogger" and we'll see if you'll be able to read other reports from the webinar from other bloggers. Hurrah for more openness!

Others commenting on the webinar:
Mary Lu Wehmier
and others at technorati

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About the Author


Dr. Schwimmer's blog explores the intersection of medicine, new technologies, and the Internet.