Immunizations are critically important in protecting older adults against serious and sometimes deadly diseases, such as the influenza virus or shingles. Yet, Kaiser Health News reported in 2015 that three out of four Americans older than 60 do not get the shingles vaccine, and one in three skip the influenza vaccine.
Lack of education about these vaccines, and when to get them, can be a significant barrier to increasing immunization rates, especially for minority populations and those who speak languages other than English. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, more than 40 million U.S. residents speak Spanish at home — a 131.2 percent increase since 1990. Further, Nielsen Company data has shown that Spanish-speaking adults are an increasing population in radio, with more than 40 million listeners nationwide.
Recognizing the opportunity to raise awareness of immunizations among Spanish-speaking seniors, the New England QIN-QIO—the Quality Innovation Network-Quality Improvement Organization for Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont — initiated a partnership with Rhode Island Latino Public Radio (LPR) in March 2017 to launch a new public health education series.
“Vaccinations save lives, and raising awareness of the benefits among at-risk populations will go a long way in improving the health of the seniors in our state.”
With the production expertise of LPR — an affiliate of National Public Radio (NPR) — the New England QIN-QIO helped construct an ongoing monthly series about the impact immunizations can have on health care and, more specifically, chronic illness. The program’s hour-long episodes feature local Spanish-speaking health officials who promote health literacy education, healthy lifestyles, and important tools and resources that listeners can use to access immunizations.
“Rhode Island has a growing Hispanic population, and our partnership with LPR has provided us the opportunity to reach more than 10,000 listeners for each program,” said Brenda Jenkins, senior program administrator at the New England QIN-QIO. “Vaccinations save lives, and raising awareness of the benefits among at-risk populations will go a long way in improving the health of the seniors in our state.”
As of July 11, 2017, three of the six planned monthly installments of the series have been completed. Programming to date has included segments on managing diabetes and how to become a more engaged patient. The episodes are made available online and shared by Rhode Island Latino LPR, the New England QIN-QIO and the digital community.
The New England QIN-QIO is also currently leading an effort in collaboration with other QIN-QIOs to extend this programming to other Latino communities across the United States.