Immunisation is one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions, and a cornerstone of public health.
High immunisation rates are key to preventing the spread of infectious diseases and viruses, complications and possible early death among individuals, and protecting the population’s health through both individual and herd immunity.
GPs offer shingles vaccinations to patients aged 70 to 73 and there is also a catch-up shingles vaccination programme for when patients, who have not already had the vaccination, turn 78. Shingles is the most common in those over 70 and can cause complications such as hearing loss or brain swelling.
However, uptake of the free shingles vaccine among London’s eligible population is low, at around 40 per cent, with some London Boroughs performing better on take up than others.
The client needed to raise awareness of the important vaccine among GPs, pharmacists, practice nurses and the wider healthcare profession, and encourage eligible cohorts to speak to their GP or a health professional and arrange vaccination. Awareness to the general public was also needed as some people may not visit their GP often.
As part of our work to promote the shingles vaccine, we produced a pro-active, co-ordinated communications and PR strategy encompassing in excess of 5,000 London GPs, around 50 other stakeholders. This involved direct communication from lead GPs to fellow GPs, GPs to patients, raising the profile of the shingles vaccination at pharmacies, and also a social, video and media campaign to reach the target population in London, sharing key messages about the shingles vaccine and why it’s important to get vaccinated, making families and carers aware,
We put the following in place:
- A video message from one of the lead GPs for London, sent to all London GPs, encouraging them to support the shingles campaign.
- Shingles template letter that GP practices could use to invite their eligible patients in for the shingles vaccination, following a data sweep on their patient records. This was backed up by a text reminder services, where available at GP practices.
- Designed a range of promotional materials, placed in all GP surgeries and pharmacies at the same time and for time period, to help promote the vaccine.
- Briefed GP receptionists on the shingles vaccine, so they were aware as often they are the first to interact with patients.
- Full, strategic sustained social media and media (to include broadcast and radio) campaign, supported by lead GPs and key health partners, including London Office of Clinical Commissioning Groups, London Mayor’s Office, Public Health England, NHS England London, Royal College of Nursing, Age UK London and a range of other health providers and health focussed groups.
- Placing top London health spokespeople as ‘message carriers’ for the shingles campaign in the media, via stakeholder communications to their audiences and getting the message of ‘get protected from shingles’ on the London health agenda, including Dr Tom Coffey, the health advisor to the London Mayor, the London Pharmacies organisation and the head of the Royal College of Nursing.
- Placement on www.myhealth.london.nhs.uk/shingles website, the one-stop shop for everything health in London.
The social media and media campaign across London increased the reach of the shingles awareness to over 270,000 people and included positive high-profile coverage in the leading health media, including the Nursing Times and Nursing Standard to reach the nursing profession, national media.
Coverage also included a range of local media across the 32 London Boroughs to reinforce the London-wide message and raise awareness locally, which utilised the power of human interest stories which were told from a practice nurse on the importance of having the vaccination, ensuring the ‘get protected from shingles message was heard’.