Taking A Shot At Immunizations Online, Part 2

June 23, 2011

Within weeks of forming a tight-knit group of like-minded health care supporters on Twitter, the momentum for the #HCSMvac project has taken off.  In short, the project is designed to raise immunization rates in Kansas City, MO, a place which has historically achieved low vaccination rates and reflects a diverse populace. To see our earliest steps in putting an action plan together, read my prior post.

Since the first month of organizing, lots of good ideas and good will have expanded the dimensions and reach of the project. April Foreman, M.D. (@DocForeman) is exploring church-based contacts for awareness outreach through the ministerial alliance in Kansas City and her own personal contacts, as her father is a Methodist minister.  Our fellow Twitter maven, Lisa Fields (@PracticalWisdom) began exploring her Twitter connections to Kansas City “health care movers and shakers.” Lisa also started tweeting to Ben & Jerry’s and Pampers to test the waters for corporate support.

Meanwhile, Nate Osit (@NateOsit)  compiled more vaccine locations with help from the rest of the group that Chris Hall (@hallicious) then used to build a Google map. At a glance, this vaccine map allows viewers to locate the nearest immunization site. Better yet, Chris went beyond the call of duty to create a QR code linked to the map. What this did was allow us to print a scanable code on our vaccine awareness posters that people could scan with their smartphones to find the nearest vaccine location based on their geo-location. That technological feat deserves an award all by itself.

Not leaving any stone unturned, Mark Dimor (@MarksPhone) has been contacting radio stations and is pursuing TV contacts to wider awareness impact apart from social media. He has recommended more tactical assignments, such as a FAQ section for our #HCSMvac website. Along the same lines, I drafted some template letters for our outreach (e.g. Letter to the Editor), while Chris created our initial poster that spawned several other versions targeting specific groups. During a recent Saturday morning #HCSMvac chat, April asked, “What would the world be like without vaccines?” That inspired two promotional videos to be posted on our #HCSMvac site and Twitter-references when the campaign goes full-throttle in August. April has decided to answer her own question on a world without vaccines through a diary from which she’ll blog about come August.

August is National Awareness Month

Ever diligent about practicality, Nate has stressed the need for pursuing local Kansas City contact development to assist with passing out our posters and spreading the word.  He already has a field trip planned to allow for some local canvassing in Kansas City. (Special shout out to Nate: he has been an incredible organizer and archivist of material and technological guru in creating a web presence for the team.)

If you haven’t figured it out already, there are quite a few very dedicated individuals who are tinkering with social media and informal collaboration just for the thrill of seeing what can happen. Ideally, immunization rates get a nice boost in Kansas City, and elsewhere, from this modest gesture. What has struck me as a more profound result is that we have all been humbled by the capacity to do something larger than ourselves. And to think it started with a tweet.

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