U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and Ad Council Launch Flu Vaccine Campaign

NEW YORK -- Health and Human Services Secretary

Tommy G. Thompson and the Ad Council today announced a national public service

advertising (PSA) campaign designed to provide Americans with critical

information about flu vaccinations.  The campaign asks Americans to "Give

Others a Shot" if they are not in a priority group for the flu and provides

simple tips to prevent the flu's spread.


This year, the Department's Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

(CDC) has stressed that flu shots need to go to those who are most vulnerable.

The priority groups for flu vaccinations are all children aged 6 to 23 months;

adults aged 65 and older; persons aged 2 to 64 with underlying chronic

conditions; all women who will be pregnant during the flu season; residents of

nursing homes and long-term care facilities; and children aged 6 months to 18

years on chronic aspirin therapy.


Thompson expressed appreciation to those Americans who have

forgone their flu shots in accordance with CDC guidelines.  "It is in the best

traditions of this nation for Americans to help those who need it most.  In

facing the challenges of this flu season, we must communicate clearly, quickly

and effectively with the public.  I want to thank the Ad Council for helping

us achieve these goals by developing this innovative public service campaign."


According to Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of The Advertising Council, "It

is our hope that this critical campaign will provide the public with the

information they need to assess their flu risk and allow the vaccinations to

protect those that are most at risk."


 Created pro bono by ad agency Merkley + Partners, the television, radio,

and Web PSAs encourage audiences to visit http://www.cdc.gov/flu or call CDC's

toll-free number, 1-800-CDC-INFO, to get more information on this year's flu

season and to see if they're at high risk for the flu.  The PSAs also provide

practical steps to help prevent the spread of the flu, 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 child care or school if they are


      * Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.

      * Clean your hands often.


    "This campaign will help us achieve our overall goal, which is to make

sure that the flu vaccine we have available goes to the people who will most

benefit from vaccination," said CDC Director Dr. Julie Gerberding.  "With the

help of the American public, we believe most of the people who are in the

priority groups will be able to get vaccinated.  I thank the people across the

United States who are being health heroes by stepping aside so those who need

vaccine the most can get it."


Per the Ad Council model, the PSAs are being distributed up to 28,000

media outlets nationwide this week and will air and run in advertising time

that is donated by the media.


"Our agency has been involved in many important campaigns for the Ad

Council," said Sue Serenska, EVP/general manager, Merkley Healthworks.  "Yet,

for this critical effort, we're thrilled to be part of the team, which will

hopefully save lives."


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



The Department of Health and Human Services is the United States

government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and

providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to

help themselves.  The department includes more than 300 programs, covering a

wide spectrum of activities, including medical and social science research,

preventing outbreak of infectious disease, including immunization services,

assuring food and drug safety, welfare, and Medicare and Medicaid.


Merkley + Partners is a leading full-service advertising agency.  Founded in 1993, M+P has more than a half billion dollars in billings and more than 250 employees.  Headquartered in New York City, clients include: BMW Motorcycles, Citigroup, Fila, Mercedes-Benz USA, Lipitor, SBC Communications and Smith Barney.  M+P is a part of Omnicom Group Inc., a leading global marketing and communications company.


The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization with a rich history

of marshalling volunteer talent from the advertising and media industries to

deliver critical messages to the American public.  Having produced literally

thousands of PSA campaigns addressing the most pressing social issues of the

day, the Ad Council has effected, and continues to effect, tremendous positive

change by raising awareness, inspiring action, and saving lives. 


SOURCE U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; The Ad