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The White House

Three Federal Agencies Join with Sesame Workshop to Launch National PSA Campaign Stressing Healthy Habits to Prevent H1N1 Flu Infection

Office of Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                      Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Contact: HHS Press Office: (202) 690-6343
Three Federal Agencies Join with Sesame Workshop to Launch National PSA Campaign Stressing Healthy Habits to Prevent H1N1 Flu Infection
New PSA Campaign Unveiled by HHS, DHS, Dept of Ed., and Sesame Workshop
The Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Education and Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit educational organization behind Sesame Street, have teamed up to launch a new, national public service advertising campaign designed to encourage American children and families to practice healthy habits and to take steps to prevent the spread of the 2009 H1N1 flu virus. The PSAs featured in this campaign can be viewed on
During the spring, the Sesame Workshop produced four different versions of a television PSAsfeaturing Sesame Street's Elmo and Gordon explaining the importance of practicing healthy habits such as washing your hands, sneezing into the bend of your arm, and avoiding contact with your eyes, nose and mouth. They have now been reformatted to promote, the federal government's one-stop website for all the latest information on the new H1N1 virus and the seasonal flu. The PSAs will be distributed nationwide and will be supported in airtime donated by television stations.
"We are thrilled to partner with Elmo, Gordon, and Sesame Workshop again to emphasize the steps kids and their parents can take to stay happy and healthy this school year," said Secretary Sebelius. "Younger children and their parents are some of the people most at risk from the new H1N1 flu virus and with schools starting back up again and the weather starting to get colder, we need to do everything we can to get these important messages about how to prevent the spread of the flu out there.
"The first day of National Preparedness Month is a great reminder that personal preparedness starts at home and these PSAs promote simple things we can all do to stay healthy and safe," said DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano."
"We want to keep our children safe, healthy, and learning. By practicing prevention, close monitoring and common sense, we can help prevent the spread of H1N1 and seasonal flu among children and young people this year" Secretary Duncan said. "Having Elmo and our friends at Seasame Street help get that message out there will be a tremendous help."
"Sesame Street's Elmo can be a powerful messenger in delivering simple, yet compelling messages that teach a child to wash their hands and cover their mouth this flu season," said Gary E. Knell, President and CEO, Sesame Workshop.  "These vital prevention messages must be part of a larger flu strategy and Sesame Workshop is proud to be partnering with the Department of Health and Human Services to ensure that parents and their young children receive the information they need to stay healthy."
In late May, Sesame Workshop first partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services on a new PSA campaign focused on the importance of providing parents, teachers and children with accurate information about how to practice healthy habits, highlighting proper hand washing and simple everyday actions that lead to staying healthy and keeping germs away.  The PSAs are an extension of Sesame's Healthy Habits for Life initiative, which helps young children and their caregivers establish an early foundation of healthy habits.
On a global scale, Sesame Workshop was the first nonprofit to respond to the flu outbreak in Mexico, with the immediate creation of four PSAs featuring the beloved Muppets of Plaza Sésamo and several Mexican celebrities who donated their time to the cause.  The flu prevention messaging has reached millions of children and their families both in Mexico and the United States.
The PSAs are part of an initiative to provide practical steps recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to help prevent the spread of the flu virus and other infectious disease, including:
    * Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
    * Keep your distance from others if you are sick.
    * When possible, stay home from work, school, and errands when you are sick, and don't send   your children to childcare or school if they are sick.
    * Cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing.
    * Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after coughing and sneezing.
    * Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
The Department of Health and Human Services will be distributing the PSAs via satellite to television stations nationwide later this afternoon. Feed information will be sent out later today.
For more information on how to take steps to prevent the flu, visit
U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
The Department of Health and Human Services is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The department includes more than 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities, including medical and social science research, preventing outbreak of infectious disease, including immunization services, assuring food and drug safety, welfare, and Medicare and Medicaid. Visit
Sesame Workshop
Sesame Workshop is the nonprofit educational organization that changed television forever with the legendary Sesame Street.  As the single largest informal educator of young children, local Sesame Street programs produced in countries as diverse as South Africa, Bangladesh and India are making a difference in over 140 nations.  Using proprietary research to create engaging and enriching content, Sesame Workshop produces programs such as Dragon Tales and Pinky Dinky Doo.  In addition, multimedia needs-driven initiatives provide families tools for addressing such issues as children’s health, military deployment and emergency preparedness.   As a nonprofit, product proceeds and philanthropic donations support Sesame Workshop’s educational research and creative content for children around the world.  Learn more at