Government PSA Urges Americans to Get Swine-Flu Vaccine

Joint Effort From Department of Health and Ad Council Includes TV, Radio, Online and Outdoor

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The federal government today launched a new nationwide public-service ad campaign encouraging Americans to get the H1N1 vaccination. Called "Together We Can All Fight the Flu," the campaign features seven 30-second TV commercials, three radio spots, online banner ads and outdoor ads that remind Americans of the importance of being vaccinated against the H1N1 flu virus.

The campaign is a joint effort by the Department of Health and Human Services and the Ad Council. It was produced pro bono by Merkley & Partners, New York. "We have to seize this opportunity to remind folks how important this is," HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said during a teleconference today. "Hard-to-reach populations are a challenge, especially minority populations."

According to the Centers for Disease control, 22 million Americans have been infected with swine flu, and nearly 4,000 have died from the H1N1 virus. Ms. Sebelius noted the timing of the ads comes as another 10 million doses of the vaccination are expected to be made available in the U.S. this week. Health-care officials had complained of a shortage on dosages of the H1N1 vaccination this fall, and Ms. Sebelius herself, in remarks last week at the American Medical Association's Third National Congress on Health System Readiness, called for a review into the government's efforts at preventative care against serious health threats.

The TV spots for H1N1 focus mainly on pregnant women, children, young adults, and other priority groups getting the H1N1 flu vaccine. There are two Spanish-language versions.

The ads are a departure from a previous PSA campaign earlier this year that featured celebrities ranging from singer Marc Anthony to Elmo from "Sesame Street" urging Americans to get their flu shots. This latest iteration features everyday Americans talking about why they're getting vaccinated against H1N1.

"Americans really look to people like them to help them make decisions like this, whether or not to get vaccinated," Ms. Sebelius said. "Whenever the Ad Council calls, you take the call. When it's as important as H1N1, you definitely take the call," said Andy Hirsch, executive creative director-partner at Merkley. "We're very happy with the work."

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