With grants from GSK, Merck, Pfizer and Sanofi, new PSA reminds people all vaccines are still needed

As the push for COVID-19 shots in arms continues—including boosters—the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is using the "Keep Up The Rates" campaign to remind people there are other preventable diseases in town besides COVID-19, and vaccines for those also need to be taken.

With grant support from GlaxoSmithKline, Merck & Co., Pfizer and Sanofi Pasteur and working in collaboration with professional societies and patient advocacy partners, the new PSAs emphasize getting more than one vaccine at a time. This is a change from early recommendations, which advised leaving a two-week window on either side of the COVID shot.

When the COVID vaccine was first available, it was important to monitor adverse reactions without any confusion, explained NFID Medical Director William Schaffner, M.D. Now that millions of doses have been given, there is more leeway in having shots done at the same time.

To get the push going, NFID is using a two-pronged approach targeting both the general public and HCPs. The PSAs are available in English and Spanish and remind viewers that flu, measles and pneumonia haven’t gone away.

It’s a similar idea to GSK’s spot for its shingles vaccine, Shingrix, which points out that even if you’re totally COVID-19 safe, “Shingles Doesn't Care.” While Shingrix delivered stellar revenues during the third quarter—22% above of industry watchers’ expectations—it doesn’t look like the shot will recover to last year’s levels just yet, thanks in part to the delta variant.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline: Don't count on a Shingrix rebound this year, but 2022 will bring 'record sales’

The NFID’s aim is to get vaccine levels up to where they were pre-pandemic—if not higher. Understandably, people did not want to go to doctors or pharmacies for immunizations during the height of the pandemic. That triggered a dramatic fall in immunizations.

“Telemedicine just bloomed, and what became very quickly evident was although you could do an awful lot of good medical care via the computer, you could not immunize,” Schaffner said. “You have to show up in person in order to get the needle in your arm.”

RELATED: Merck enlists celebrity couple and their kids to encourage childhood vaccines in public service campaign

NFID’s PSAs are available online and with a broadcast-ready version on the website for any local news stations to air. There is also a website and a social media campaign on Twitter and Facebook.

Another important aspect of the campaign is what Schaffner calls the “classical way”: Reminding HCPs that they need to go over immunization lists with patients when they visit to ensure they are up to date on all required vaccines.

“I even say, don't recommend vaccines—insist on them. We don't recommend treatment for your diabetes or your high blood pressure, we tell you what the treatment is going to be and what you have to do.”