Health officials, experts get vaccinated for flu as study highlights progress, gaps in vaccination efforts
WASHINGTON — Flu vaccination rates have remained steady overall, but rates continue to vary between age groups and among states, according to data from a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study published Thursday.
Leaders from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, CDC, American Pharmacists Association, American Medical Association and others gathered at the National Press Club in Washington Thursday morning, where public health officials and medical experts, including the Department of Health and Human Services’ assistant secretary for health, Howard Koh, received flu vaccinations.
The CDC study, announced to coincide with the event, showed that an estimated 128 million people, or 42% of the U.S. population, received flu vaccinations during the 2011-2012 season. Vaccination rates among children ages 6 months to 17 years remained steady, at 52%, with rates among those ages 6 to 23 months increasing to 75%, a 6% rise over the 2010-2011 season. But coverage of children also decreased with age: Among those ages 13 to 17 years, the rate remained at 34%. Meanwhile, adults ages 65 years and older showed rates of 65%, but that represented a decline from 74% in 2008-2009. Among pregnant women, rates increased from 30% in 2008-2009 to 47% in 2011-2012, and vaccination rates among children were comparable across ethnic groups, but disparities remained in the adult populations. The CDC reported noted that coverage remained below the goal rate of 80% for those ages 6 months to 65 years and 90% for those ages 65 years and older.
"The past three years have demonstrated that influenza is predictably unpredictable," Koh said. "When it comes to flu, we can’t look to the past to predict the future. Stay healthy — get vaccinated."
APhA chief strategy officer Mitchel Rothholz lauded the role pharmacists had played in vaccination efforts. Pharmacists in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico can administer influenza vaccines.
"Pharmacists have been offering flu vaccines for nearly two decades, but the 2009 pandemic prompted greater collaboration throughout the immunization neighborhood, resulting in sustained public health gains," Rothholz said. "Pharmacists and pharmacists are playing a greater role within the immunization neighborhood in making vaccines and vaccine information more accessible to all community residents."
More than 85 million influenza vaccine doses were distributed as of Sept. 14, and manufacturers project that 135 million will be distributed during the season in pharmacies and other retail stores, doctor’s offices, public health clinics and other venues, according to the NFID.
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The great divide: Top 10 ideas on creating value during your retail engagements
Warren Buffet once shared: “In looking for people to hire, you look for three qualities: integrity, intelligence and energy. And if they don’t have the first, the other two will kill you.” Most people believe they operate with integrity and transparency, but the dirty little secret is that your customers may see you as biased or not as valuable as you think.
Over the last few years there is a growing expectation that suppliers must provide total transparency to their retail partners. The belief is that the more open a supplier is, the better a retailer can align with the brand strategies creating a differentiated brand experience for its customers. This mantra is repeated by both buyers and sellers at most industry conferences. Are open organizations the new standard of our industry?
Our organization recently conducted research with many of the top merchants in our industry, and the findings were very telling. The great divide between manufacturers and retailers lies in four key areas including:
- Not truly understanding the most critical priorities (i.e., boardroom priorities) of the customers;
- Not truly being differentiated versus their competitors;
- Not bringing the most relevant assets or people to the customer relationship; and
- Not being hardwired to the customer’s agenda — allowing you the permission to co-author customized solutions.
During a recent Insights Forum conference the members compiled a list of assets and behaviors to improve retailer-supplier alignment, relevance and one’s corporate image and effectiveness with the industry. As I learned from the forum members, if you can do this more consistently, you will become more valuable in your retail customers’ eyes.
- Introduce products or ideas that change the market dynamics and economics of the category. Some examples are K-cup innovation in coffee, Swiffer, Purell and 5 Hour Energy.
- Understand the consumer dynamics better than others within a complicated category that is not being currently evaluated (e.g., travel trial section, front end, in/out seasonal end caps, Father’s day and Mother’s day events).
- Evaluate the overall sales productivity and insights within adjacencies that you do not play in. Since you do not offer items for the category, this allows your company to truly serve as objective validator.
- Determine the most current definition of what value is for each of your top retail partners and the consumer within your business.
- Build a sales and marketing culture that continually looks to uncover and address retail or consumer problems (i.e., pain points) that no one is aware of.
- Provide video-driven consumer insights that reveal the stated and unstated needs of the consumer. The video serves as your salesperson — allowing you to listen and respond to the retailer’s reflections.
- Utilize an objective moderator to facilitate innovation co-creation or consumer insight meetings. Again the theme is to move from sales to educator.
- Construct and facilitate integrated business management meetings blending guest insights, category management findings, strategy and innovation to maximize engagement and alignment.
- Change the mix in higher indexing stores to optimize overall category productivity.
- Discuss and uncover “share of segment” opportunities, isolate leakage to competitive retailers and uncover why the sales left the store.
A common theme shared by forum members was this final idea. Don’t wait to be appointed as the category adviser within your area of expertise. Humbly, but assertively, take the role and demonstrate uncompromising fairness and objectivity. This is the mantra of companies that know how to close the relational gap between themselves and their top retail customers. How are you doing?
Dan, once again you have hit the nail squarely on the head. My hope is that manufacturers and retailers will heed this advice and take action. Without embracing some of these new ideas and approaches, we'll simply continue down the same path expecting different results. And that, as we know, is not an option!
Rite Aid partners with Valassis in in-store marketing, media deal
LIVONIA, Mich. — Rite Aid has signed a deal with a media and marketing firm that the two said would allow the retail pharmacy chain to create a consistent look for its in-store marketing and media programs.
Valassis announced that it had signed a multiyear partnership with Rite Aid to develop and execute in-store marketing and media programs, which they said would create a "shopping environment that directly meets consumers’ needs."
"Valassis has a proven track record of effectively implementing and executing in-store marketing and media programs," Rite Aid VP marketing Craig Riner said. "Selecting Valassis as our new third-party in-store marketing partner will allow us to expand on our vision to create the most meaningful wellness and value shopping experience for our customers."
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