With the dire warnings from the CDC that this flu season will be worse than usual, we thought it would be a good time to fill our Twitter feeds with advice from those who are most in the know: health departments. These wellness professionals are using Twitter for the greater good — tweeting tips on how to avoid getting sick, sharing food poisoning warnings, and spreading the word about health resources in multiple languages. Check out these feeds while you are waiting to get your flu shot:
Massachusetts Public Health @MassDPH
At this time of year, @MassDPH turns their focus to holiday related health hazards and offers a lot of tips to help their followers prevent Christmas tree fires, protect their families from recalled toys, and, of course, avoid the flu. Mixed in with this seasonal advice are tweets that help squash rumors about ebola and other highly publicized health threats.
Florida Department of Health @HealthyFla
@HealthyFla offers a great mix of tips to keep Floridians healthy that include everything from how students can destress during finals to keeping children safe in the kitchen when they are helping bake holiday treats. Like many health departments across the country, the Florida Department of Health has a bilingual feed to better reach the communities they serve.
Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) @TexasDSHS
In addition to the usual tweets about hand washing and flu vaccines, Texas DSHS enhances their outreach with a dedicated program focused on supporting teens with mental health and substance abuse issues called Speak Your Mind Texas (@speakyourmindtx). The department uses their online platform to magnify offline #communityconversation events taking place in cities across the state.
California Department of Public Health (CDPH) @CAPublicHealth
The CDPH knows how scary it can be to encounter a potentially life threatening allergen where it’s not expected, which is why they were quick to get a tweet out to their followers when a recall on ice cream was triggered. This is a perfect example of Twitter at its best — mass distribution of a small bit of critical and time sensitive information that is easy to share.
Chicago Public Health @ChiPublicHealth and @foodbornechi
The Chicago Public Health department has an innovative program that uses Twitter to track and respond to outbreaks of food poisoning at city eateries. Foodborne Chicago works in two ways: citizens can report suspected cases of food poisoning directly on the website and the agency proactively scans Chicago based tweets for evidence of food poisoning and @replies to the tweeter to get more information. GovTech.com called it the “next frontier in government social media” and we agree.
For more health and safety tips, find and follow your local health department. Stay happy and healthy this holiday season!