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Re: The Flu Season and what you’ve told us about it.

Photo credit: hellogiggles.com

Photo credit: hellogiggles.com

Let me begin by saying that I appreciate your attempt to communicate with Albertans. Really.

Also, I would like to extend my prayers for comfort and sympathy to those who have lost loved ones to the Flu.

Now, on to reason that I am writing to you and the business of keeping the public informed.

Please find following, a list of the messages you have shared with Albertans during the 2014 Flu season:

  • Everyone should get the Flu shot
  • Unless 90% of people get the Flu shot the larger population is compromised
  • The Province has enough Flu shots for 23% of the population
  • The Province is disheartened that only 42% of medical staff have gotten the Flu Shot
  • The Province says they’re not sure how effective the Flu shot is if under 85% of the population gets it.
  • 12 people have died from the Flu
  • 10 people have died from the Flu
  • 8 people have died from the Flu
  • Calgary has 2 centres offering the Flu shot. Some people wait 4 hours to get their shot.
  • People don’t have to panic. Really, we’re OK. Sure the more who get the Flu shot the better. (We’re really not sure what the threshold percentage is.)

WHAT???

Now I’m not saying that there isn’t a logical explanation for the contradictions above. You say you typically secure a certain amount of the vaccine and end up throwing some out because you’ve over estimated how many people will get their shots. I’ve also heard speculation that you were just way better at getting the ‘you-should-get-your-shot’  message out this year.

But you’ve got to admit that your messaging has created confusion and panic, and it doesn’t really matter if you have it all straight in your own heads if the rest of us don’t understand. Some of us, throughout this Flu season have felt manipulated by your messaging, at the very least, trust was broken.

Not being one to just point out errors, I thought I might also provide you some suggestions for next time.

A list of strategies you may consider for the next time:

  • Plan out and have your communication strategy ready by August
  • Get everybody who needs to be involved into the same room.
  • Get your facts and key messages down on paper and agree on them
  • Make sure your facts are accurate
  • Make sure everybody is singing from the same song sheet
  • Select your spokesperson(s) and make sure they’re well versed in your key messaging and can articulate the message clearly.
  • If your spokesperson(s) can’t stick to the accurate, thoroughly researched, factual key messages you’ve bothered to put together, consider releasing the information on a fact sheet and leave it at that.

While you’re at it, you may ask yourselves what the common areas of concern are, i.e., what’s in the flu shot, what are the risks, is it true there are fish byproducts in the vaccine and what if I’m allergic to fish, or eggs for that matter  questions and include that information in your messaging instead of directing people to a long dissertation that no one can find on your website.

And for pity’s sake, if you don’t know the answer to something, just say so and tell us you’re looking into it and will get back to us. And then ACTUALLY get back to us. We can respect that.

You’re welcome!

Diana Schwenk, just another Albertan

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