At a glance: Government targets kids with flu-jab campaign

What’s happening? For the first time the Department of Health’s annual flu vaccination campaign is targeting parents of ‘at-risk’ children. Half of the kids in this category – aged over six months with asthma, diabetes or weakened immunity due to disease or treatment – did not have the free jab in 2004.

What about older people?
They will continue to be targeted, of course. Around 30 per cent of over-65s were unvaccinated last year.

Who is handling PR for the campaign?
DoH senior press officer Erica McAlpine is leading the campaign
for the Government, working alongside The Forster Company. Project leader at the agency is George Ames.

And do we have celebrity backing?
A bevy of celebrities has indeed been mobilised to support the campaign: Sir Cliff Richard, Terry Wogan, David Bellamy and even Manchester United footballer Paul Scholes are extolling the jab's virtues.

And the media are all on board?
As well as features this week on the BBC and GMTV, media relations is aimed at consumer press, ethnic minority media and regional radio. The Forster Company has also set up partnerships with retailers such as Mothercare and Safeway, and voluntary groups including Asthma UK.

Any plans for Sir Cliff to dress as a giant flu bug, then?
Tempting, but no. However, This Morning's resident doctor Chris Steele is shown squaring up to a cartoon flu bug in publicity material. The campaign runs from now to Christmas, although the DoH hopes most people will be immunised by the end of November.

Is flu a major problem?
Flu is highly infectious and can lead to more serious illnesses, such as bronchitis or pneumonia and can result in hospitalisation or even
death. A sneeze can carry the flu virus up to 30 feet.

Ugh. Pass me that hankie.
Quite. The campaign is also aimed at health professionals through medical media.

To get them to offer the jab to their patients?
No, to get doctors themselves to have the jab. Last year only 16 per cent of frontline health professionals took up the free offer.

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