Communicating About Pandemic Flu

AIR is working with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Marketing to help individuals and communities prepare for a possible influenza pandemic. Providing accurate information that motivates people to prepare for a public health emergency is critical to reducing illness and suffering and ultimately saving lives. As a result, AIR developed the second phase of Take the Lead: Working Together to Prepare Now, a campaign designed to encourage local leaders—such as health care providers, employers, and faith-based and civic leaders—to raise awareness of pandemic flu and encourage the community to prepare for possible influenza outbreaks.

Getting the flu is always serious, but if an outbreak is caused by a new flu virus such as H1N1, more people may become sick and the illness may be more severe. The current challenge is mobilizing people to take steps to stay healthy before an outbreak and to prepare to take care of themselves and loved ones if they do get sick. AIR will tailor projects to reflect lessons learned during the first wave of H1N1 and best practices and preparedness priorities.

Since 2001, AIR has worked with HHS to develop communication strategies for pandemic flu and emergency preparedness. Activities have included survey research, materials development, media training, and developing and delivering training programs. Examples of AIR’s work on pandemic flu for HHS include award-winning guides on public health emergency preparedness and the brochure Pandemic Influenza Planning: A Guide for Individuals and Families.