UI flu shot promotion successful


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A chance at an iPad was enough motivation for many University of Iowa students to get a flu shot this year.

Lisa James, the interim administrative director for Student Health Service, said this year's vaccination numbers have exceeded last flu season's figures, which she attributes to the new iPad giveaway.

James said 2,741 shots had been administered as of Dec. 9. The figure exceeds the 2,734 shots administered from December 2010 to June 2011.

"I think [the iPad] probably was part of it; we included that in some of our marketing efforts," James said. "There were some students who didn't know that we were doing the iPad thing; when they got here, they were pretty excited to know that we were."

The idea for the promotion, she said, came from speaking with students involved with Student Health to find a stronger incentive to get vaccinated.

"We've done gift cards a lot in the past, but this was something that could be a little bit more enticing," James said.

The funds to purchase the iPad came from "no-show" appointment fees.

In 2009, the center saw an uptick in the number of vaccinations because of the H1N1 virus.

James said getting more people to be vaccinated is the best way to avoid spreading influenza.

"By getting the flu shot, you do a lot of good for everyone, not just yourself," said Michael Pentella, a UI clinical associate professor in the at the UI State Hygienic Lab. "When you're very sick with the flu, it's not a good experience, so you save yourself that experience, and you don't have to worry about transmitting it to other people."

The Iowa Department of Public Health has reported that 2.5 percent of school absences have been caused by illness during the 2011-12 influenza season so far, and one of every 5,741 hospitalizations was associated with influenza.

Some UI students said the iPad promotion may have helped to increase the number of vaccinations administered, but many said there were other reasons to get a flu shot.

UI sophomore Reid Brown said he was aware of the promotion but it wasn't his "primary motivation" in being vaccinated. He believes a poster might have been more effective than an email in advertising the promotion.

"I certainly don't think [the promotion] could have hurt," Brown said. "I'm sure that people who get flu shots primarily get it through other motivations."

James said Student Health plans to continue to implement similar promotions in the future. She said promoting specific rewards rather than a gift card proved more effective.

"The way it seems right now, the response to it, it seems like we will probably do that," she said. "It's excited our staff to be more proactive, and I think it's kind of invigorated everybody, so I hope it's something we continue to do."

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