WASHINGTON, D.C. - Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced recently that the Department of Health & Human Services is joining with the Ad Council to launch a series of national television public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to encourage Americans to take steps to protect themselves from the 2009 H1N1 flu virus.
Included in the public service advertisements being released today are new spots featuring characters from the popular Sesame Street and the winning spots from the recent 2009 Flu Prevention PSA Contest sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services.
The Ad Council is distributing the following PSAs nationwide today and the ads will be supported in airtime donated by television stations nationwide. The spots will also be available at flu.gov, the government's one-stop website for all the latest information on both seasonal and H1N1 flu:
* Young Adults: The winning PSA video from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services national 2009 Flu Prevention PSA Contest on YouTube (featuring the "hip hop doc"), along with four additional videos from the contest, will aim to reach those ages 17 to 24. More than 50,000 votes were cast for the contest. The PSAs are available in :30 and :60 lengths and include a Spanish-language spot.
* Parents and Pregnant Women: Produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a new series of TV ads featuring Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, singer Marc Anthony and actress Amy Ryan aim to reach parents and pregnant women. The PSA featuring Marc Anthony is also available in Spanish and the ads are in :30 length.
* Parents and Children: Designed to reach children under the age of five and their parents, Sesame Workshop, the non-profit educational organization behind Sesame Street, produced two new television PSAs. Sesame Street's Elmo and Rosita have a new song teaching children the proper way to sneeze while Elmo and Luis talk to parents about the importance of creating a plan to keep their children home from school if they get sick. These messages build on a PSA Sesame Workshop released with HHS and the Ad Council earlier this year which explained the importance of practicing healthy habits this flu season. The PSAs are available in English and Spanish and are :30 lengths.
"While getting a flu vaccine is the best way for Americans to protect themselves and their families from the flu, as we wait for the H1N1 vaccine to get distributed out into local doctors offices and sites across the country, there are critically important things that Americans can be doing right now to keep their friends and family healthy and safe and to prevent the spread of flu," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "These new prevention PSAs will help us get the word out about what to do about the flu. Fighting the flu is a shared responsibility between all of us and we are so grateful to all those who helped create these wonderful new messages. We are hopeful that Americans will spread these new PSAs virally and use to them to help stop the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu. "
The H1N1 flu virus is contagious and spreads person-to-person the same way that seasonal influenza does. The virus has quickly spread worldwide and in June 2009 the World Health Organization declared a global H1N1 flu pandemic.
After a summer of elevated influenza activity levels, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recorded as many flu cases in September as it does when flu season normally peaks later in the fall and winter.
Children, young adults under 25, pregnant women and adults 25-64 with underlying health conditions, like asthma, are more susceptible to falling ill to the H1N1 flu and are at higher risk for serious medical complications, including hospitalization and death.
To date millions of Americans have gotten the H1N1 flu virus and more than 600 have died since the spring from HINI flu-related complications; including children and pregnant women.
The new PSAs focus on the importance of providing Americans with accurate information on the simple steps they can take to help prevent the flu. The PSAs encourage audiences to visit www.flu.gov. to get more information on how to stay healthy.
"Since the outbreak of the H1N1 flu, many Americans have expressed concern about how they can protect themselves from being infected," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "We are proud to continue our longstanding partnership with the Department of Health and Human Services for these critical PSAs that will educate Americans about steps they can take to stay healthy."
The Ad Council has been partnering with the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to develop PSA campaigns that address critical health issues since the 1950s. Their successful collaborations have included public service messages about the polio epidemic, drug abuse and, more recently, obesity prevention.