Using Your Emergency Alert System to Manage Vaccine Distribution

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The vaccines are coming!

You already know this, of course, and chances are you’ve been involved with planning the first wave of distribution and how to get the word out on future vaccine distribution in your community.  And hopefully, you’ve used, or are planning to use your Hyper-Reach or other mass notification system to help keep the public and other key constituencies aware of expectations and plans in your area. 

There’s a lot of communicating to do. Mass notification can help you: (a) set folks’ expectations for when vaccines will be available to which groups, (b) point them to sources such as vaccinefinder and the CDC, (c) remind people to get their second dose, when applicable, (d) counter misinformation, (e) tell people where mobile vaccine centers are located on which days, and (f) remind them to report side effects.

Here are some ideas you may not have thought of:

  1. Use the vaccine situation to help build community sign ups.  

As the adage goes: “never let a crisis go to waste.” If you’re going to send alerts regarding ANY aspect of vaccine distribution, let your citizens know to sign up for the updates you can provide. We’ve drafted a press release you can adapt to your own situation here.  Feel free to change it and use it as you see fit. In addition to sending it to your local news media, you can post it to Facebook and other social media, use it as an email blast (even using the Hyper-Reach system), or put it in your blog, if you have one.  We’ve included variations on the press release to help you do that too. 

2. Create special interest groups and lists. 

One of the great features of Hyper-Reach is the ability to create special purpose lists and make it easy for people to sign up for them.  We actually do that in two ways:

a) Text messaging. By creating a special code, such as “CovidVaccine” and using it with a text number, you can let citizens sign up for a list just by texting the code to the number. To illustrate, we’ve created another press release and media post you can use to promote this service here.

b) Dynamic lists. Because Hyper-Reach supports dynamic lists with customizable attributes (also known as fields), you can create special purpose dynamic lists that give you the information you need to know who within the list to send messages to when the time is right. 

3. Let people know how it’s going.

One powerful way to get others to do what you want them to is to show them that others like them are doing the same thing. You can start by letting folks know how many people in your county or city have gotten immunized.  If you have specific populations you want to address (black or hispanic people, for example), make a point of highlighting others who belong to those populations who are getting shots. 

4. Make it sound a little challenging. 

As counterintuitive as it might seem, the perception of inconvenience can improve your results, because people perceive your demand as higher if they have to work harder to get what you’re offering. If you’ve ever seen an ad on TV that says “if operators are busy, please try again,” that’s the reason why. And with the vaccine in limited supply for many months, this won’t be hard to do. 

Got any other ideas? This is a team effort, and we’ll publish any great ideas we find to share them as broadly as possible. So if you’ve got suggestions about how your notification system can help in this important effort, we’d love to help get the word out. Just drop a line to jveilleux@ashergroup.com.

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