Government draws up 'Code Red' swine flu communications strategy

LONDON - The government plans to implement a series of marketing campaigns to alleviate the growing sense of public unease surrounding the swine flu pandemic.

The Department of Health (DoH), which has been working with the COI, also has plans in place for several 'worst-case scenarios'. These include a 'Code Red' campaign that will tell people what to do if the flu hits crisis point.

Last week, Sir Liam Donaldson, the government's chief medical officer, said that the virus may claim up to 65,000 lives across the UK.

A press ad by DDB London will appear in national newspapers from 23 July. The double-page-spread, text-based ads will take a question-and-answer format addressing common enquiries concerning the virus.

On Monday, health secretary Andy Burnham announced the creation of a National Pandemic Flu Service to help diagnose patients suffering from flu-like symptoms. 

The service, which will also launch tomorrow, will initially cover England only. It includes a swine flu helpline and an online service that allows members of the public to self-diagnose. Swine flu sufferers will be able to access an authorisation code with which a 'flu friend' can pick up medication from collection centres.

The government has been criticised by the Royal College of General Practitioners for a 'lack of information and conflicting advice' about swine flu.

 Related article: Government's swine flu communications strategy comes under attack


Key initiatives

  • In May, the government sent out 25.6m information leaflets to UK households.
  • It also launched a TV, radio and print campaign showing how the germs can spread.
  • Last week, an outdoor campaign was rolled out; it shows children sneezing, to focus on the threat to infants.
  • Directgov and the DoH are being updated daily on the latest information and advice.



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