ABC News On Campus reporter Kristin Giannas blogs:
From the narrow halls of our nation’s middle schools to the jam-packed lecture halls common on university campuses, there’s a new subject on the curriculum this year: H1N1.
“We had H1N1 influenza throughout the summer in summer camps, and now with colleges and schools coming back into session, we're seeing more cases,” said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
H1N1 influenza, Frieden added, is spreading in parts of the United States, particularly in the Southeast.
So what can be done to keep students, faculty, and staff from getting sick with the flu? How about carrying around a chainsaw to increase social distances, or wearing a hazmat suit to class…
These were suggestions submitted over YouTube by contestants participating in the Flu Prevention PSA competition hosted online by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Watch a video montage of the 10 finalists below:
More than 200 videos were submitted: 15-to 60-second commercials promoting good hygienic practices. Today at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced the winner: “H1N1 rap by Dr. Clarke,” took home the $2,500 grand prize.
Watch the winning video HERE.
“Hand sanitizer, I advise you get it … why? It makes germs die when you rub and let it… dry,” rapped Dr. John Clarke of Baldwin, New York in his 60-second PSA.
“The government has great information, and the CDC has great information, but sometimes hearing it from peers and hearing it from other people is the best way to get information out,” said Jay M. Bernhardt, director of health marketing for the CDC. Giving the public a voice is a strategy that Bernhardt said helps spread the word, not the flu.
“The H1N1 pandemic really is the first 21st century outbreak, and so we’re using 21st century communication strategies to address it,” said Bernhardt. These strategies include Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, powerful social networking tools that can send out information to billions around the world.
The CDC produces podcasts and videos, which are uploaded to itsYouTube channel, CDC Streaming Health, said Bernhardt, “There was actually a week in May that we were one of the top viewed videos on YouTube.”
That video, “Symptoms of H1N1 (Swine Flu)” now has more than 1.5 million hits. The clicks don’t stop on YouTube. Bernhardt said the CDC puts out regular tweets on its twitter handle, "CDCEmergency."
“Before the H1N1 outbreak started back in April, we had about 3,000 followers on our Twitter feeds, now we have over 800,000 people following the CDC twitter feeds,” said Bernhardt, and on their facebook page, the CDC has more than 25,000 fans.
“The great thing about social media is its very low cost,” said Bernhardt. “This is a good return-on-investment for very little money, we can get our information out to a great deal of people.”