SPRINGFIELD - From buying a mega-shipment of hand sanitizer to paying a Chicago public relations agency to help coordinate an educational campaign, state officials are gearing up for the onslaught of a nasty flu season.

With the H1N1 flu bug expected to hit hard across the nation in the coming weeks, the Illinois Department of Public Health has used about $90,000 in federal funds to hire a Chicago-based public relations firm.

The company, Jasculca/Terman, is helping create a campaign aimed at prevention of seasonal and H1N1 flu. Key to the effort is a tour by Public Health chief Damon Arnold to various parts of the state to preach the virtues of vaccinations and hygiene.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office has requested bids for hand sanitizer, which are placed at driver's license facilities across the state, as well as in key spots in the Capitol complex in Springfield. In all, Secretary of State Jesse White's office is estimating the state will need about 4,000, 1-liter bottles of sanitizer in the coming year.

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