Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi-Aventis, tapped New York Knicks guard Chauncey Billups as its 2011 spokesperson for Vaccines for Teens, an ongoing educational and awareness campaign. Other players will join the effort in local markets this year, in concert with the NBA, WNBA and the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine (SAHM).
The campaign first launched in February 2009, with Grant Hill of the Phoenix Suns as spokesperson, and new PSAs starring Billups (who joined New York from the Denver Nuggets in Feb 2011) will air nationally on NBA media and during televised NBA games. “As a father, nothing is more important to me than my children's health,” said Billups in a release. “I encourage parents to speak to their child's healthcare provider and get informed about how they can help protect their preteens and teens by getting them vaccinated.”
In Miami, NBA legend Bob Lanier and Miami Heat forward Juwan Howard joined Lawrence Friedman of SAHM, and Tricia Reilly and Natasha Davis, sisters of Rhett Davis, who died of meningococcal disease, to speak with middle schoolers about the importance of getting vaccinated. Events are scheduled for Dallas in March, according to an NBA spokesperson. The WNBA will be involved in three events after its season kicks off on June 3, the spokesperson said.
The campaign's web presence —vaccinesforteens.net—offers information and statistics related to influenza, HPV, meningitis and pertussis, as well as links to national health organizations. “The best offense is a good defense,” Billups says in the PSA, which is available for viewing on the site. New York-based PR shop Cooney Waters is working on the campaign, according to a Sanofi spokesperson.