5 Communications Tactics to Increase Member Flu Vaccine Rates

It’s that time of year again – flu vaccine communications. Last year the flu was all but nonexistent due to pandemic precautions like social distancing and mask wearing. This year, with more people vaccinated against COVID-19, getting together in bigger groups, travelling, and not wearing masks, the healthcare system is already seeing an uptick in other upper respiratory viruses like RSV that typically peak in the winter but are at much higher levels than usual. It’s anyone’s guess what the flu will do this year, but one thing is working against us - since the flu wasn’t circulating as much last year, greater numbers won’t have natural immunity which could lead to more complications. This unknown makes it more important to remind and urge your members to get a flu vaccine this year. Are you doing enough to nudge your members to get it?

There are tactics to apply in vaccine communications that can nudge more members to follow through. Through our experience and insights reaching millions of members, here are five best practices to employ in flu vaccine communications:

1. Adding behavioral economic language can increase vaccine compliance by up to 15%. “You are now eligible for YOUR vaccine.”

2. Capturing intent within a specific timeframe can nudge members to get the vaccine up to 5% or more. “Are you planning on getting the vaccine this week or next week?”

3. Personalizing the communications can increase vaccine rates by up to 20%. “Since you have asthma, you are more likely to experience more severe flu complications.”

4. Adding language to overcome barriers can increase vaccine rates up to 25%. “You said you were afraid of getting the flu from the vaccine. Did you know that…”

5. Including geotargeting to communications can increase vaccine compliance by up to 5%. “Here are 3 locations near you to get the vaccine.”

It’s important to note that these tactics can work to nudge the vaccine hesitant to get a vaccine not just for the flu but also for other vaccines including the COVID-19 vaccine. The tactic that we have seen used most effectively for the COVID-19 vaccine is identifying personalized barriers and providing communications helping to overcome those barriers. Whether it’s for the flu or COVID-19, moving the needle on vaccine compliance can be done – and every member counts.

Kathleen Ellmore

Ms. Ellmore is one of the earliest pioneers in bringing the best of consumer marketing and data driven methodologies to healthcare. Instead of getting you to eat when you are not hungry and buy things you don’t need, we can finally use the same strategies to instead change the health equation in America. Kathleen previously led the Consumer Engagement consulting practice for Welltok (formerly Silverlink) for 12 years, leveraging its data repository of over a billion consumer health interactions, the best of behavioral economics, and the latest in clinical research, to create evidenced-based communications on what works to drive consumer healthcare behavior yielding better outcomes and lower costs. She is often quoted in the trade and national press and is a regular speaker on the national stage, having spent the first twenty years of her career in brand marketing at leading consumer marketing organizations, including General Mills and P&G. Additionally, she was a Vice President at Digitas, a leading direct marketing firm. Recently she was selected as Consultant Member of the first ever FDA’s Patient Engagement Advisory Committee.