Achoo! PHE urges public to 'Stay Well This Winter' to reduce preventable hospital admissions

Public Health England and NHS England have launched a preventative health campaign called 'Stay Well This Winter' in a bid to reduce pressure on hospitals during the colder months.

Targeted: PHE is telling parents of toddlers the flu vaccine comes in a nasal spray, rather than an injection
Targeted: PHE is telling parents of toddlers the flu vaccine comes in a nasal spray, rather than an injection

The main campaign centres on targeting vulnerable groups, such as parents of young children, the elderly, pregnant mothers and people with long-term health conditions - and persuading them to take up their free flu vaccinations.

PHE has tailored its key messages for each of the groups it wants to target.

Parents of young children will be told the vaccine is in the form of a nasal spray rather than an injection and of the danger of their child developing secondary conditions such as pneumonia and needing hospital treatment.

Pregnant women will hear that the flu jab is the best way to protect themselves and their babies and that pregnancy naturally weakens the immune system, making them more susceptible.

Meanwhile, others will be told that flu kills 8,000 people with a long-term health condition each year, including those with heart or lung disease.

All at-risk groups in the campaign will be asked to self-identify, with parents, for example, asked "is your child aged two or three?".

The campaign will adapt its approach to each of the targeted groups, across children’s television, relevant websites, TV and radio.

The social media strategy will be a combination of paid and organic Facebook and Twitter posts, with each audience reached by targeted Facebook posts.

There will also be a traditional media strategy, with the pharmacy chain Rowlands running an article supporting Stay Well This Winter in its Your Life magazine.

In addition to the flu vaccine element of the campaign, Stay Well This Winter will promote a range of actions the public can take, such as heating their homes to at least 18C, seeking advice from a pharmacist at the first sign of a winter illness and collecting medicines before GP surgeries and pharmacies close for Christmas, as well as checking on elderly neighbours.

Sheila Mitchell, director of marketing at PHE, said of the campaign’s objectives: "Stay Well This Winter aims to ensure that people who are most at risk of preventable emergency admission to hospital are aware of and, where possible, are motivated to take actions that may avoid admission this winter. For the flu phase, the objective is to help increase the take-up of the flu vaccination by the key eligible groups."

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