Newsroom > DHHS News Release

December 14, 2009

Leah Bucco-White, Communication and Legislative Services, 402-471-9356,
HHS Press Office, 202-690-6343

HHS and Nebraska DHHS Release New H1N1 Public Service Announcement withthe Jim Henson Company’s “Sid the Science Kid”

PSAs encourage kids and parents to get vaccinated

Lincoln - Today the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council released a new 30-second H1N1 public service announcement (PSA) for TV featuring Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer of Nebraska and the Jim Henson Company’s “Sid the Science Kid.” The new PSA brings together one of America’s favorite TV characters and Dr. Schaefer to remind children and parents that vaccination is the best way to stay healthy during this flu season.

“With a record number of pediatric deaths, children are one of the most vulnerable populations when it comes to H1N1 flu,” said Secretary Sebelius. “Not only are they at higher risk for complications from H1N1 but they also contribute to the spread of the virus because of school, daycare and other group activities. That’s why we are pleased to team up with Dr. Schaefer and “Sid the Science Kid,” as we urge more Americans to get vaccinated.”

“I’m proud to be part of this partnership encouraging vaccination. It’s a great example of federal, state and local health agencies working together to keep people safe this flu season,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer. “We know children are more susceptible to flu complications. Vaccination helps keep them healthy and stops the spread of the virus. I urge Nebraska families to get the H1N1 flu vaccine.”

“Right now, Americans have a window of opportunity to protect themselves and their communities by getting vaccinated against the H1N1 flu,” Sebelius said. “While disease has declined in many areas of the country, the flu is unpredictable and there could be additional waves of illness as flu season continues. Getting vaccinated is the best way to lessen the impact of or even prevent another wave of H1N1 flu.”

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. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommends that individuals in these groups, as well as caretakers of children younger than six months of age, and health care workers get the H1N1 vaccine as soon as possible.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between April and November 14, 2009, 47 million people were infected with the 2009 H1N1 flu, more than 200,000 H1N1-related hospitalizations occurred, and there were more than 9,800 H1N1-related deaths. CDC estimates that between mid-April and November 14th, there were over 1,000 pediatric deaths, 71,000 pediatric hospitalizations, and a total of 16 million pediatric cases.

Created in collaboration with the Jim Henson Company, the new PSA campaign is designed specifically to reach children and parents. On October 26th, a special episode of Sid the Science Kid “Getting a Shot: You Can Do It” premiered on PBS KIDS, in which Sid and his friends get vaccinated against the flu. The special episode will continue running on PBS through 2010 and is available for download on . The campaign builds on a broader HHS PSA campaign that was launched earlier this year and includes messages from Members of Congress, Elmo, top-health officials, and an Ad Council campaign for TV and radio called “Together We Can All Fight the Flu.” All HHS PSAs are available at .

The new 30-second television PSAs will be distributed locally through the Ad Council. In addition to Dr. Schaefer, 15 Governors and a First Lady, recorded PSAs with “Sid the Science Kid.”