The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS),the Ad Council and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, recently launched a national public service advertising campaign designed to encourage American families and children to take steps to protect themselves from the 2009 H1N1 flu virus (swine flu) and continue to practice healthy habits. The announcement of the campaign signals continuing concerns by government and other health experts that the swine flu pandemic may continue to circulate or even worsen unless proper precautions are taken.
The 2009 H1N1 flu virus is a new flu virus of swine origin that was first detected in April 2009. While press attention has died down in recent weeks, the virus is spreading from person-to-person, sparking a growing outbreak of illness in the U.S. and internationally. To date, over 5,700 cases have been reported in the United States and there are nine deaths associated with the novel H1N1 infection. Experts believe that the 2009 H1N1 flu spreads in the same way that seasonal influenza viruses spread — primarily through the coughs and sneezes of people who are sick with the virus.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius unveiled the campaign at the HHS/Department of Education Childcare Center in Washington, D.C. The PSAs will be distributed nationwide and will be supported in airtime donated by television stations.
The new PSA campaign focuses on the importance of providing parents, teachers and children with accurate information about how to practice healthy habits, highlighting proper hand-washing and simple everyday actions that lead to staying healthy and keeping germs away. Created by Sesame Workshop, the television PSAs encourage audiences to visit http://www.cdc.gov to get more information on how to stay healthy. The PSAs are an extension of Sesame’s Healthy Habits for Life initiative, which helps young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits. As part of HHS/Ad Council campaign, Sesame Workshop produced a television PSA featuring Sesame Street’s Elmo and Gordon explaining the importance of healthy habits such as washing your hands, avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and sneezing into the bend of your arm.
The PSAs are part of an initiative to provide practical steps recommended by HHS’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent the spread of the flu virus and other infectious disease, including:
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Keep your distance from others if you are sick.
- When possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick, and don’t send your children to childcare or school if they are sick.
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
Cynthia Marcotte Stamer and other attorneys practicing with Curran Tomko Tarski LLP are experienced advising and representing health industry clients, community organizations and others about pandemic planning and other disease management and health industry risk management and compliance concerns. If you have questions about these matters, please contact Ms. Stamer at 214.270.2402.
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