TOWSON, MD: In response to the federal government's smallpox vaccination initiative, the Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF) has teamed up with Fleishman-Hillard for an awareness campaign. The effort is being partially funded by an educational grant provided by Bayer, also a Fleishman client.
John Cregan, SVP in Fleishman's Cleveland healthcare practice, said the initiative has three components: national media outreach, volunteer outreach, and public affairs support.
Broadcast news outlets are being pitched for interviews with spokesperson Melissa Schweitzer, director of patient advocacy for the IDF.
Additionally, immune-deficient patients and family members are being used as "PR ambassadors," said Cregan. The volunteers have been identified, media trained, and directed to contact their local media outlets.
In the way of public affairs, Fleishman is helping the IDF create recommendations for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services' education materials about smallpox vaccinations.
Nearly half of Americans are unaware that they are immune deficient.
According to Cregan, "It is necessary to make the facts available to these members of the population who are most susceptible to adverse reactions to smallpox vaccinations."
At the end of last year, President Bush announced a massive vaccination plan. "Without clear guidelines about the vulnerabilities of patients," said Cregan, "the consequences could result in decreased public support for the government's entire plan."