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The federal government is reintroducing a powerful weapon in the fight against the H1N1 flu virus: Elmo.
The popular Sesame Street character will be featured in a series of public service advertisements meant to encourage better hygiene among young children, the Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday.
In the ads, Elmo teams up with Gordon, another Sesame Street veteran, to stress the importance of basic healthy habits such as frequent hand washing, sneezing into the bend of your arm, and not touching your mouth, nose, and eyes.
The ads were initially rolled out in May, but have now been repackaged to help promote www.flu.gov, the government Web site responsible for posting information regarding the H1N1 virus.
"We are thrilled to partner with Elmo, Gordon, and Sesame Workshop again to emphasize the steps kids and their parents can take to stay happy and healthy this school year," Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said in a statement.
"Younger children and their parents are some of the people most at risk from the new H1N1 flu virus and with schools starting back up again and the weather starting to get colder, we need to do everything we can to get these important messages about how to prevent the spread of the flu out there."
"Elmo can be a powerful messenger in delivering simple, yet compelling messages that teach a child to wash their hands and cover their mouth this flu season," Sesame Workshop President Gary Knell said.