A unique campaign which encouraged thousands more children in Wolverhampton to have their flu vaccine last year is set to return.
The Flu Fighters campaign - devised by the City of Wolverhampton Council, Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group and the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust - helped bring about a 13% increase in the number of children who received their free nasal spray in 2018.
It saw a colourful storybook, Flu Fighters Versus Chilly, Achy and Snotty, distributed to thousands of pupils across the city, and helped ensure over 3,000 more children received the vaccination last winter, compared to the year before.
Flu Fighters Versus Chilly, Achy and Snotty told the story of three slimy alien invaders from the Planet Bogey who came to Earth "to spread disease and make Wolverhampton's children cough, splutter and sneeze". Fortunately, their dastardly plans are thwarted by a watchful nurse who protects our young heroes by giving them the nasal spray and turning them into Flu Fighters.
Now, following the success of their first outing, the Flu Fighters are returning - and preparing for The Battle of Planet Bogey. It sees our brave heroes blast off from Earth to take the fight to the aliens on their home planet.
Councillor Jasbir Jaspal, the City of Wolverhampton Council's Cabinet Member for Public Health and Wellbeing, said: "The impact of the Flu Fighters last year cannot be underestimated, helping achieve the best uptake of the flu vaccine among local children for many years.
“Indeed, uptake in Wolverhampton, which had previously been the worst in the Black Country, was the best in 2018, and also above the national average for the first time. We are therefore delighted to be bringing the Flu Fighters back with an all new story for 2019, and we hope to see a further increase in the number of children receiving their free vaccine this autumn.”
Dr Salma Reehana, Chair of Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, said: "The importance of the flu vaccine in protecting our children from the effects of severe flu cannot be underestimated. It is also very valuable in preventing the spread of harmful germs within the community.
"The Flu Fighters campaign has really helped raise awareness amongst children and parents leading to an extremely good response within the city for vaccination programmes. It has led to improvement in uptake among other groups through GPs too. I would urge all parents to ensure that their children are appropriately protected by getting them the vaccine - better safe than sorry."
This year, all children from Reception to Year 6 at infant, junior and primary schools in Wolverhampton, and all children in special schools, will be offered the free flu vaccination at their school. The vaccine is also available to children aged two and three, and children with some long-term health conditions, through their GP.
Free copies of Flu Fighters in The Battle of Planet Bogey will be distributed to all infant, junior and primary school-aged children through schools this autumn by Vaccination UK, along with parental consent forms and information about the flu vaccine.
To find out more about the free nasal spray, and to read and download the first story - Flu Fighters Versus Chilly, Achy and Snotty - please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/flufighters.
As well as the vaccination for children, people with long-term health conditions, the over 65s, carers and care staff, people in long-stay residential care homes and pregnant women are also eligible for a free vaccine through their GP or pharmacist, while anyone else can get their vaccination from many local pharmacies for a small charge. For more information, please visit www.wolverhampton.gov.uk/flu.