CDC broadens its child flu vaccination campaign

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began its 2008 influenza vaccination push with a $1 million PR budget.

ATLANTA: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began its 2008 influenza vaccination push with a $1 million PR budget.

This year's campaign, which opened September 24, taps children ages 5 to 18 years old for the first time, said Kristine Sheedy, director of communications for the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases. Efforts to reach out to children under the age of 5, seniors, healthcare workers, and others at high risk remain.

Each year, 36,000 deaths and 200,000 hospitalizations are reported due to influenza, Sheedy said.

The Academy for Educational Development (AED) is aiding the drive for the fourth consecutive year, said Jim Bender, deputy director for the Center for Health Communication at AED.

The Washington-based nonprofit re-bid the account and was awarded a six-year contract on August 28. No other firms on the pre-qualified IDIQ contractor's list pitched the account, according to the CDC.

The campaign's total budget is $2.5 million, said Sheedy. The $1 million for PR is similar to last year's budget, said Bender. It will continue through January or February, depending on the timing of the flu season.

Main effort elements will focus on social media strategies, including a Web seminar for mommy bloggers; flu e-cards and badges; “Get Vaccinated” Web buttons; audio and video podcasts; and a YouTube video created with a campaign partner, Families Fighting Flu.

“This partnership allows for a human face with the campaign,” said Sheedy of the video, which features families who have lost children to influenza.

In 2007, the CDC first urged parents to vaccinate children 6 months to 5 years old. With the expansion of children's ages this year, media efforts will include outreach to parenting magazines; Web sites; and publications read by healthcare workers, provider groups, and pharmacists, Bender said. Specific days will focus on certain demographics – children, seniors, healthcare workers – with the National Influenza Vaccination Week scheduled for November.

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