Here's a way to make $2,500: Use your creativity and fight the flu at the same time.
How? Enter your own 15-, 30-, or 60-second public service announcement in a contest sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services.
Right now, HHS is working on lining up celebrity judges. (We hear Paula Abdul may be available.) Closing date to submit videos is August 17.
Be clever. Everyone who watches TV at odd enough hours to catch public service announcements will be watching the winning video.
The contest is part of the government's efforts to educate people about the flu. "We're very concerned about people having accurate information," a senior government official said at a background briefing yesterday.
One of the goals is to make sure people understand issues surrounding vaccination -- vaccine safety and who should get priority -- so people don't feel rushed into making decisions when the first vaccines against the swine flu become available. That's now expected to be in mid-October.
Rules, you ask? But, of course. You can find them here.
Meanwhile, the federal government is in the process of updating guidance on when schools should consider closing when the new H1N1 makes its expected return in the fall. Those guidelines will be out by the end of this week, according to another senior government official.
Swine Flu Bonus: The PSA bar set druing the swine flu scare of the 1970s is pretty low. Check out some vintage spots on YouTube.
Sorry about the "senior government official" bit. While members of the administration are making a concerted effort to inform people about the flu, their names aren't part of the deal.
Officials put off one question at the briefing. Will the President get one of the first vaccinations against the new flu? They didn't answer directly but acknowledged an Obama immunization could look like he was getting special treatment because he's not in one of the five priority groups (pregnant women, household contacts of kids under six months, 6-month through 24-year olds, adults 25 to 64 with chronic diseases, and health-care workers and emergency medical services workers).