Monday, September 29, 2008

Fighting Influenza

It's amazing what they expect you to find -- or even seek -- on YouTube.
On Sept. 24 the Centers for Disease Control posted an elegant and powerful documentary featuring the stories of parents who had suddenly lost their children to influenza.
I first heard that the video was put on YouTube from New England Cable News. I had always assumed that most of the stuff on YouTube was entertainment and cutting-edge stuff on politics -- the Saturday night sketch featuring Tina Fey as Sarah Palin, a video of John McCain losing his cool. I never guessed that a government agency would expect YouTube viewers to take time to watch a public service announcement.
As of this moment, the influenza piece has had 3,800 viewings.
I found a story on the video on USA Today on-line. The story mentioned an appearance, by a family named Lastinger, appearance on the video. Then I went onto YouTube, put ``lastinger families fighting flu'' in the search field. I found want I was looking for, but the keywords also brought up illegal dog fighting, fighting on ``Family Guy,'' a tape of a Punjabi family fighting, and a pretty funny sketch of a family fighting on an old comedy show.
Talk about free association.
In its story, published yesterday, USA Today reported that this is the first year that the Centers is using an all-out Internet-based awareness campaign on influenza vaccine.
USA Today reported:

``The CDC has hosted a Web seminar to encourage `mommy bloggers' to `spread
the word, not the flu. The agency has created flu e-cards that visitors to www.CDC.gov can send to friends, urging them to get vaccinated, flu badges for
members of social networks such as MySpace to post on their profiles, and `Get
Vaccinated' website buttons that allow visitors to go to the CDC's flu page.
`This is new territory for us,' says Kristine Sheedy, director of communications for the CDC's National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.''
This is not the first time that the public health arm of the U.S. government has put out videos urging vaccinations for kids. Eight months ago, a YouTube member who goes by zektek5 who posted 7 videos promoting flu shots. The videos were produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, of which the Centers is a ``family of agencies'' member.

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