Devon flu campaign reaches one million people and gains recognition across the country

Coby flu postcard FINAL.JPG
(Last Updated On: December 18, 2018)

The Devon flu campaign, #ThumbsUpForCoby has reached over one million people across the UK in just it’s first few months.

The campaign aims to drive up flu vaccination rates in children and features the parents of a nine-year-old boy from Devon who died from flu in January this year, who are calling on mums and dads to vaccinate their children. The campaign was formed as part of the Devon health and care system’s approach to a joined-up winter communications strategy.

Louise Simons and Jamie Chrichard say they don’t want other families to go through the pain they have suffered since ‘strong, kind and bright’ Coby died of pneumonia on 24 January 2018, just days after coming down with flu.In October they launched #ThumbsUpForCoby, a campaign urging parents to vaccinate their children – the single best way of protecting against the potentially deadly virus.

To help promote the campaign, 50,000 ‘postcards’ featuring photos of a smiling Coby and a message from Louise and Jamie, have been distributed to children’s centres, GP practices, schools, leisure centres and libraries across Devon. The campaign has been well supported by health and care partners across the Devon system to date, and continues this month with advertising in local buses during December.

The campaign message has already been shared thousands of times on social media accounts right across the UK and has featured in BBC and ITV news and radio coverage.Devon’s approach to system-wide planning for a winter strategy has been recognised nationally as an exemplar of partnership working and a public sector campaign by the Chartered Institute of Public Relations at an awards ceremony last month. The efforts in Devon have been well received and acknowledged as an excellent example of integrated working.

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Apart from five years studying in Oxford I’ve lived most of my life in London where for many years I was Head of English in a prestigious girls’ school, but since taking early retirement and heading West to be nearer to my two daughters - settling in Torbay with my wife, Anna, in 2011 - I’ve worked in the voluntary sector. I took on the role of Service Provider, for example, promoting the Red Cross Torbay Navigators Project, while now I’m a Trustee and part of the Media Team for our local Healthwatch. I’m a governor at Torquay Academy, too, giving me the chance to stay up to date with what’s happening in the world of education. Other interests, aside from friends and family, include art and art history, reading - from contemporary fiction and poetry to Elizabethan/Jacobean literature - history, politics, cooking, walking, and music, in particular Bob Dylan, the blues, and early Elvis. I love writing, too, with one novel published so far – Elvis in Wonderland – and another, Who’s There?, that still needs plenty of work!