I have to hand it to the Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) for using social media to educate people about the H1N1 flu. The rap-style YouTube video, Talkin ’bout the flu has been up since Thanksgiving. I just found out about it now, by listening to an iHealthBeat podcast on the topic featuring BPHC officials. BPHC started with the realization that African Americans and Latinos are being hit hard by H1N1 and that men in particular are unlikely to get vaccinated. So they did their best to find credible messengers (in this case young BPHC staffers) to make a video to be posted on YouTube and then spread virally.
The video is pretty entertaining and informative and most importantly is a good building block and learning effort for BPHC. I like the way they are using their website and media such as Twitter and Facebook to communicate with the public and get the word out. It’s a lot more modern than the old phone and non-social media based activities that are typical of public health. With time and experience it’s likely to prove more efficacious and cost-effective, too.
I like the message that appears at the top of the video, indicating that H1N1 vaccine is now available to the general public, and providing a link to the schedule of clinics offering the vaccine. The clinic page is modern, too, with the opportunity to add a clinic to your calendar and be reminded by email.
I hope BPHC will build on its successful foray into social media and that other health departments will jump on the bandwagon.January 4, 2010