Meetup.com, a popular social media website that promotes offline interaction, helped the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reach 10,000 people with its flu vaccination campaign, according to new research presented today at the American Public Health Association’s 140th Annual Meeting in San Francisco.

The agency used MeetUp.com as part of its 2011-2012 National Influenza Vaccination Campaign, recruiting groups across the U.S. to spread flu vaccination messages to low-vaccination geographic location.

Seventeen of the 75 target groups convened to get flu vaccinations together during the program — accounting for an estimated 300 vaccinations — while members in 55 other groups posted online vaccination messages for fellow members. Researchers concluded that vaccination messages reached more than 10,000 people.

“By working with a social media platform where actions are a natural part of the way users participate, the number of people vaccinated became a tangible goal for the campaign,” authors said.

Visit APHA’s online planner to browse scientific research being presented at the Annual Meeting this week.