While some of the writers here are gearing up for Vaccine Awareness Week, Esther Taunton from Taranaki Daily News reports that the low up-take of the government-funded human papillomavirus (HPV) immunisation programme is being laid at the feet of lack of engagement with social media in the program.

They argue that without a presence in the social media popular with the age-group that they were targeting, the kids were receiving too much of a cautionary (or even misleading) message.

I wrote a post about vaccination promotion a while back wondering if a more positive approach and message, but with a younger age group in mind (thinking of targeting parents via the kids).

While the ’Naki DHB is clearly focused on a positive message, their lesson suggests that the medium matters too.

Thinking about the awareness program for the HPV vaccination program, I’m guessing teens see blogs as old school.

(That’s any blogs, not us. As for us at sciblogs in particular, we’re far too adult-oriented for that crowd and perhaps seen by others as an extension of the government or health authorities in their eyes to boot, when in fact we’re independent.)

It helps to talk their language. That’s never genuine except from someone near to their age-group. Don’t you hate it when presenters for, say, a concert put it on when they’re clearly trying to be wayyy younger than they are? It hardly ever rings true, and is cringing when it doesn’t.

Am I alone in thinking that you probably need to fire up a bunch of kids, perhaps just a couple years older than the target audience, and get them cranking out Facebook pages, tweets, whatever? Perhaps the group you really need to educate are those who are just a little older than the target group?

I’m sure the publicity people while have done far more on this than my few minutes of idle rumination – I still think it’s worth discussing. What do you think?


For more on the wider issue of promotion of vaccines, Joseph Albietz writing a Science-Based Medicine as a few words on the topic.

I did think that perhaps a well-known young solo Mum like Keisha Castle-Hughes speaking out might be a help, but it occurs to me that it might play both ways – ? A very quick google search suggests she hasn’t been involved. (Please don’t tell me she’s against the vaccine.)

Other articles on Code for life:

Positive encouragement for vaccination

What comedian and vaccine critic Bill Mayer wrote

Rubella, not a benign disease if experienced during early pregnancy

Sources for medical information for non-medics and non-scientists

Descent into a boiling volcano crater, and puffing smoke rings