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Hip Hop Doc Raps About Flu Prevention

Heather Comak, for HealthLeaders Media, September 24, 2009

Next time you watch your favorite TV show, you may see John D. Clarke, MD, FAAFP, rapping about flu prevention during the commercial break.

Clarke was announced this week as the winner of the Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) Flu Prevention Public Service Announcement contest. One of more than 240 contest entries, Clarke's one-minute clip touches on the basics of infection prevention—namely by handwashing and practicing safe sneezing and coughing techniques. More than 50,000 people voted on the 12 finalist video clips in the competition.

"We are thrilled that so many Americans got involved in our PSA contest this summer," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in a statement. "I want to congratulate Dr. Clarke, the 'hip hop doc,' for producing his creative and engaging video. His work will reach millions of Americans this flu season to remind them how to stay healthy."

Lines like:

If you think you're infected seek attention, if you have it stay at home so you don't spread none,

Use tissues when you sneeze because you could spread some, 'cause coughed up germs is where it spreads from

are sure to stick in the heads of adults and kids everywhere who need to remember certain basic actions to prevent the spread of the flu.

The Baldwin, NY, resident's rap mentions preventing the spread of H1N1, although the original competition was to promote certain practices for preventing spread of the seasonal flu. However, health officials expect the seasonal flu and H1N1 to together pack a decent sized punch—the WHO expects that within two years, one-third of the world's population will have caught the H1N1 virus.

Earlier this summer, HHS announced the competition and the entries started pouring in. Some used humor as a device for hitting the infection prevention message home, others relied on creative ways to display hygiene facts and good practices. Members of the public had 18 days to vote on their favorite clips at HHS' YouTube channel after a panel of judges from the video communications and public health industries narrowed the field down to 12.

Clarke will receive $2,500 for winning the competition.


Heather Comak is a Managing Editor at HCPro, Inc., where she is the editor of the monthly publication Briefings on Patient Safety, as well as patient safety-related books and audio conferences. She is also is the Assistant Director of the Association for Healthcare Accreditation Professionals. Contact Heather by e-mailing hcomak@hcpro.com.

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