Back To School!

15 08 2014

Dr. Mary Beth Koslap-Petraco, PNP, shares her tips for getting kids off to a healthy start this school year.



Share your ideas for a healthy school year in the comments!


Videos on the Cheap!

6 10 2011

Videos entertain, document, educate, and illustrate. They have many purposes.

The majority of health departments and immunization coalitions will make short PSA (public service announcement) videos to inform the community about such things as a new ACIP recommendation or an upcoming flu clinic.

These same groups may also make videos to educate the public about the services they provide to the community, or to complement a fundraising campaign.

Whatever the reason for making a video, nine times out of 10, nonprofits and health departments won’t have enough money in the budget for video production.

The good news is that even if your group doesn’t have $500,000 for a five minute video (that’s right, $100,000/minute for a higher-end video), you can still produce a decent video with a little luck and creativity.

Getting Started

The first step is hiring someone to produce your video. Rather than hiring a PR firm, consider hiring a freelance producer/videographer. Their prices are almost always far below a PR firm’s prices.

Check through local universities that offer film studies—one of the professors or even a skilled student may do freelance work. You may be able to find a class that could produce your video as a class project. Or call the local TV stations and ask if any of their videographers, cameramen, or videojournalists do freelance work on the side. Try broadcastvideo and search for your state—you’ll find several freelancers wanting work.

When you find the person who can shoot your video, you will want to sign a contract with the individual or group representative. Make sure that they are willing to produce the video in addition to shooting it.

There are many sample contracts online for sale and for free, and the videographer may have a standard contract she uses. Your local office supply store may also have a production contract. Just make sure that the contract is clear about what the final product will be, when it will be delivered, the format, and the quantity. You and your videographer will then review and sign the contract.

Confirm that the producer/videographer will be responsible for all post-production, or at least be responsible for finding, hiring, and overseeing capable people so that you are delivered a finished product ready for use.


Deliverables: The contract should include deliverables (i.e. the different videos that will be produced) and the date by which they are to be completed. Even if you are only making one video, you may want to produce :15-, :30-, and :60-second versions of the video for use as PSAs. Those should be listed in the contract. The following are issues you want to address that may or may not be listed under deliverables:

Aspect Ratio: You should specify whether the videos will be in standard (4:3) or widescreen (16:9). Widescreen videos tends to have a more modern feel, and video sharing websites like YouTube now support it.

Quality: Will your videographer film the video in standard definition or high definition? High definition may not be available (yet) on a budget because the cameras can cost more to own. If it’s not available, don’t worry: HDTVs are able to display standard definition video.

Formats: You should specify the formats in which you’ll want to receive your video. For broadcast formats (i.e. formats that can be shown on TV), you’ll want to contact the stations you want the video to air on and ask what format they prefer, such as Beta-SP videotapes or Quicktime (broadcast quality).

It’s also a good idea to ask for videos in smaller formats for the Web. Be aware that, in order to speed download time, file compression will take place and some quality will be lost in the process. Some popular formats are:

  • Flash video (FLV) will play in almost all browsers if you put the video file inside a Flash player such as Flowplayer
  • Windows Media Video (WMV)
  • QuickTime

A nice size (as measured in pixels) for widescreen standard definition web video is 640 x 360.


The next step is to formulate the story. Although you will have message or talking points you want to insert into the video, your video should not be limited to them. You want your video to be a story that interests people and keeps them with you to the end—to inspire them to take action by getting a flu shot, taking their parents in for a shingles vaccination, or donating money or time to your cause, for example.

You will need to script some sort of story so that your videographer knows what you’re looking for. The videographer will create a storyboard for his or her own use, but you’ll want to go over both ways of storytelling together before shooting begins.

Don’t worry too much about the script. Just write down your talking or message points in the context of how you’d like them told. For instance, describe a person sitting in a chair against a black backdrop telling her story, and in that storytelling, she hits on specific message points.

Once you have that confirmed, you can either let the videographer take over and make suggestions, or you can contribute additional, specific ideas you have for presenting the story. Either way, you and the videographer will work together to come up with a creative vision for the video.

The more location shots you have, the more time it will take and the more expensive it will be. You want your video to be more than a person talking into a camera, so think about using copyright-free or royalty-free images or video clips from online vendors, such as or pond5.

Next comes casting. If the people in the video are not professional actors, then you’ll need to media train and rehearse them so that they appear relaxed in front of the camera and know their messages.

If the cast is inexperienced, you don’t want them to learn a script word-for-word. Their delivery will be more natural without memorization of a script. An example of talking points you might provide them are:

  • On average, 36,000 individuals die annually from influenza-related causes and over 200,000 are hospitalized.
  • Every year, five to 20 percent of those persons living in the United States will become infected.
  • Influenza is serious, but there is an effective vaccine for those over six months of age that helps prevent infection.
  • XYZ Health Department and the XYZ Immunization Coalition invite you to our flu clinic at 4th and Main, Friday, October 13th, from 9am to 6pm.
  • Bring the kids, bring the grandparents, bring yourselves. Flu’s Gonna Lose and You’re Gonna Win!


You’re almost there! When the videos are far enough along in the editing process, you will show them to a focus group. The group should be made up of individuals who have no expertise in the subject matter and generally represent your target audience.

Based on the discussion after the showing, you’ll be better equipped to tailor your message as your producer/videographer completes the post-production or editing process.


Finally, the end: Distribution! Put your video on your website or an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) site from which local stations can download it. You can also hand-deliver copies to the TV stations.

If the video is downloadable, you’ll want to send a letter explaining who you are, what the message is, how to download the video, and why it’s important that the community see the video. Include your contact information and call the station within a week of the initial contact to see if they need additional information and to ask when they might run it.

If you plan to hand-deliver, write the same letter as above but leave out the downloading instructions.

Put a label on the DVD with the name of your group, your contact information, the video title and running time, start and end dates (unless it’s generic enough that it can run a year from now and still be timely), and any other specs your videographer thinks are necessary to mention.

This material was originally posted on PKIDs’ Communications Made Easy website.

Flu Shot Already?

29 08 2011

It’s so easy to get flu vaccinations these days. My daughters and I were grocery shopping and we were immunized between the bacon and the frozen pizza aisles.

OK, I confess I didn’t tell my 12-year-old what we were going to do. I lured her to the store with promises of cantaloupe and pepperoni sticks (don’t judge) and slipped in the visit to the pharmacy mid-store. My 15-year-old was happy to get her shot because she had H1N1 last year and is determined never to get the flu again as long as she lives.

Does it seem weird to anyone else to get a flu shot in August? The upside is, there are no lines, and the shot takes a couple of weeks to kick in, so getting it sooner rather than later is a good idea.

Obviously, influenza is on my mind. I was browsing YouTube for flu vaccination videos and came across this one from Australia. What do you think? We need to mix it up a bit. Does this do the trick?

By Trish Parnell

Video courtesy Government of South Australia

H1N1 Vaccine Questions? Ask Dr. Anne

4 09 2009

Chief Science Officer Dr. Anne Schuchat answers parents questions about the 2009 H1N1 flu and the vaccine to protect against it. Children aged six months through 24 years are recommended to receive H1N1 flu vaccine. Learn more about it, and how you can protect your family with this vaccine.

This video can also be viewed at or on the CDC podcast page.

Handwashing Poster/Video Contest

1 09 2009


Global Handwashing Day will be here in a few weeks. We’re sponsoring a poster and video contest! (cheers in the background)

Poster Submissions: Email your original artwork to by 15 September. The winner will get a $200USD gift certificate.

Video Submissions: Upload your video to YouTube and follow the submission guidelines below by 15 September. Videos should be short in length, like that of a commercial or PSA. The winner will get a $500USD gift certificate.


We want the poster and video to remind people that handwashing is an important method of disease prevention (get rid of germs before they get you), and with luck, the memory of the poster/video will stick with them next time they start to prepare food, leave the bathroom, finish playing outside, or do whatever it is they do to get germs on their hands. We want to stop disease transmission so people of all ages stay healthy.

Whatever your vision is of soap and water and clean hands, that’s what we want to see. Be funny, be serious, be esoteric, but most of all, be creative and original!

For the complete rules and guidelines, visit our contest page.

Finding Health Info on YouTube

29 06 2009

YouTube is a vast library of online videos.  There truly is something there for everyone.

This amount of content makes narrowing a search challenging, but doable.  It is possible to find quality health-related videos on YouTube.


Creating An Account
Go to and create an account by clicking the Sign Up link on the top right.

As you’re filling in the blanks on the sign-up page, notice the little box that says, “Let others find my channel on YouTube if they have my email address.”

Channels are people’s accounts. Think of YouTube as a giant TV and everyone signed up, including you, is hosting his/her own channel. Yikes! Very crowded, but there are gems in the crowd.

Once done with the sign-up page, you’ll go to another page where you’ll type in your email and password.  At the end of this process, YouTube sends you an email asking you to confirm your account.  Follow the email instructions and you’ll soon be on your very own YouTube account page.  When you get there, look in the upper right corner of that page.  If your user name is there, you’re signed in and ready to go.

Your Page
Take a look at your personalized home page. The first option you have is Add/Remove Modules.  Click on that to go to Account Settings, where you pick and choose what you want to see on your home page (e.g. add/remove subscriptions, recommendations, friend activity, ect.).

Subscriptions is next (videos from channels to which you’re subscribed), then Recommendations (videos recommended by YouTube that you may like), followed by Friend Activity (videos your friends have uploaded), Featured Videos (videos that are featured on YouTube), and Videos Being Watched Now (which is self-explanatory).

Searching YouTube
Finding health channels to subscribe to is easy―just type a keyword (e.g HIV/AIDS, pertussis, H1N1, etc.) into the search box.

The search brings you results from Channels (other users’ accounts) and Playlists (a user-maintained list of videos).

Browse the channels and playlists and when you find something you like, click the gold Subscribe button on that page.


Subscribing allows you to get up-to-date videos from the channels or playlists you select and feeds those videos to your home page.

When looking for a range of information providers to subscribe to, sorting by Playlist can be beneficial, as playlists may be made up of videos created by that particular user, or videos the user likes that are created by others, or a combination.

YouTube - health search

You can also click on the Community tab (see above) and browse videos by categories, shows, movies, channels, contests and events.

Once you’ve identified a health information source and determined its credibility, click subscribe.

The new videos from that user’s channel or playlist will then show up on your YouTube home page under subscription.

It is that easy, so jump in and don’t forget to find some funny vids to get you through the day.

Visit PKIDs and GETVAXED on YouTube, subscribe to our channels and check out our favorites.