Friday, November 11, 2011

Do you have it in you? Enter the APHA Flu Near You Challenge today!

Today’s guest blog is co-authored by John Brownstein, PhD, and Mark Smolinski, MD, MPH. Brownstein is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of HealthMap, an online disease tracking tool. Smolinski is director for global health threats at the Skoll Global Threats Fund.

On Oct. 30, attendees at APHA’s 139th Annual Meeting were given a special treat after a screening of clips from the movie “Contagion.” The APHA Flu Near You Challenge was announced to a capacity crowd at a session featuring distinguished panelists Georges Benjamin, MD, FACP, FACEP (E), executive director of APHA, and Larry Brilliant, MD, MPH, president of the Skoll Global Threats Fund.

The Flu Near You Challenge, online at, invites APHA members to leverage their social networks to recruit dedicated users to help track the flu on Flu Near You, the nation’s first online, crowdsourced, open flu symptom surveillance system. A total of $150,000 in cash and other awards will be available during the challenge. The more people you recruit and the more weekly surveys they submit, the better your chances of winning a cash prize or award!

During the Annual Meeting, more than 200 APHA members stopped by the HealthMap booth in the Expo Hall and registered for the challenge. By the end of the meeting, more than 550 APHA members had registered, either in person or online. One lucky challenge registrant was the winner of an iPad at the meeting’s closing session on Nov. 2.

Recruiting Flu Near You users is easy. For tracking and recruiting purposes, each entrant receives a unique personalized link and a widget that can be pasted into emails and posted to social media platforms. Entrants can recruit anyone who resides in the U.S. and is at least 13 years of age to become a Flu Near You user. Users simply have to complete a weekly survey that takes just 10 seconds to fill out. Participating in Flu Near You is voluntary and all displayed data will be anonymous.

To see how you’re stacking up against other APHA members taking part in the challenge, watch the online challenge leaderboard. Remember that you can count your own Flu Near You surveys toward your individual and group prize total, so don’t forget to fill out your first survey ASAP.

Stay tuned for more tips and tools as well as updates on additional prizes. Do you have it in you? Don’t wait to join the APHA Flu Near You Challenge today!

Visit the APHA Flu Near You Challenge website for full details, including rules and regulations and frequently asked questions. APHA is also now accepting applicants for its Flu Near You Fellowship.

Photo: From left, Smolinski and Brownstein at the launch of APHA’s Flu Near You Challenge at the Annual Meeting

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