Opinion: Letter of the week - Department of Health responds to media criticism over flu

The Department of Health's seasonal flu campaign has in no way been 'negligent and slow-footed', as claimed in your article (DH defends flu handling, 14 January).

Proactive engagement with the media has been sustained and targeted across all platforms. Communication began on 30 September, when journalists were invited to attend a campaign launch briefing led by David Salisbury, director of immunisation.

This allowed us to outline at the earliest opportunity the key differences between a pandemic flu vaccination campaign and the seasonal flu campaign, the vaccine, what it protected against and those eligible to receive it. This was backed up by a press release to all media.

We held a range of national and regional opportunities with broadcast media, while engagement with consumer media resulted in a number of features in women's magazines.

In November, as soon as vaccination data began to show uptake was slightly lower than in previous years, we issued a press release reminding people of the importance of vaccination against flu, again highlighting pregnant women's eligibility for vaccination.

Following increased interest during the Christmas period, we held weekly briefings at which the media were updated on detailed flu data.

Sian Jarvis, director-general, comms, Department of Health

prweeletters@haymarket.com

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