We know that antibiotics are effective only against bacterial infections, but so many are requested and prescribed inappropriately that some bacteria are becoming resistant to the medications.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about half of all antibiotics are prescribed unnecessarily for upper respiratory infections. Join the CDC’s efforts to educate about proper antibiotic use and the dangers of improper use this U.S. Antibiotic Awareness Week (Nov. 13-19).
- Use your social media presence to educate about antibiotic resistance and antibiotic overuse. The CDC has created tons of sample posts to help you get started.
- Flu season is underway and it’s important to remind seniors that colds and the flu are caused by viruses, not bacteria, meaning antibiotics won’t help. Let them know that taking antibiotics unnecessarily can increase their risk of getting an infection later that is resistant to antibiotics. Create a fact sheet about to educate about antibiotic ineffectiveness against the flu and leave them in senior centers, assisted living facilities, and physician waiting rooms. Use these fact sheets made available by the state of Tennessee and the Southern Nevada Health District for inspiration. Don’t forget to include a reminder that getting a flu shot and warding off the flu is the best option.
- Place an antibiotic awareness graphic on your website or print the notice and post it in your community. Check out the 6 Smart Facts About Antibiotic Use graphic produced by the CDC.
- Contact your local newspaper and ask to write a guest editorial about antibiotic overuse and correct antibiotic use. Be sure to describe how your agency helps seniors with services such as medication reminders and management of health conditions. If you are not permitted to write a guest editorial, write a simple letter to the editor instead.
- Create a fact sheet about how to take antibiotics correctly (including taking an entire prescribed course, not sharing medications, not saving antibiotics for the next illness and not asking for the drugs when advised by a doctor that they are unnecessary). Post this on bulletin boards at libraries, grocery stores, senior centers and places of worship. Find inspiration in these fact sheets created by the state of Louisiana, the Infectious Diseases Society of America, and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
- Call your local TV and radio talk show programs and offer to educate viewers/listeners about antibiotic overuse and proper antibiotic use. Include information about infections antibiotics CAN treat, such as bacterial bronchitis, pneumonia and strep throat. Your appearance on such programs instantly increases your credibility and reputation as a trusted community health resource.
- Download and print antibiotic awareness materials in Spanish and distribute them in senior centers, adult day care facilities and senior living facilities with a large Spanish-speaking population. Be sure to attach an agency brochure describing your services, in Spanish of possible.