Ministers are facing media pressure over the number of recent flu deaths, after parents of three-year-old Lana Ameen released images of their daughter on life support. The parents released the images in the hope of persuading ministers to vaccinate all children against the deadly swine flu virus. Lana, who died from swine flu within 48 hours of developing symptoms over Christmas, was not eligible for the flu jab under the current rules.
- Why is this important?
Figures released by the Health Protection Agency on 13 January revealed there have been 112 deaths connected to flu this winter, with the majority linked to the H1N1 swine flu virus. Under the current Government vaccination policy, healthy children under five are not eligible for the flu jab. The 'at-risk' groups who receive the jab on the NHS include people aged 65 or over, people with a serious medical condition and pregnant women.
- PR strategy
Gemma and Zana Ameen released a picture of their daughter in intensive care to the national media and urged ministers to change the current vaccination policy and give all children the flu jab. Zana Ameen, who is a doctor, wrote an exclusive piece in the Daily Mail on 14 January claiming that had his daughter been vaccinated, she would still be alive today.
- Media coverage
The image of Lana appeared across all media platforms. Print highlights included the Daily Mail running the story on its cover for two consecutive days. Gemma Ameen also granted an interview to BBC News on 12 January.
112 deaths connected to flu this winter
6 children under five reported to have died from flu this year