‘Vaccinate your children’ – a heartfelt message from the parents of Coby, 9, who died of flu

‘Vaccinate your children’ – a heartfelt message from the parents of Coby, 9, who died of flu #ThumbsUpForCoby social media campaign launched by brave Devon parents

The parents of a nine-year-old boy from Devon who died from flu in January this year are calling on mums and dads to vaccinate their children, saying the loss of their baby boy hurts every single day.

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.

Today they are launching #ThumbsUpForCoby, a campaign urging parents to vaccinate their children – the single best way of protecting against the potentially deadly virus.

Louise, a catering supervisor, said: “Coby was strong and hardly ever poorly. He was kind and bright and had lots of friends at school, but we have lost our baby boy and it hurts every single day.

“Please don’t put your children at risk– make sure they have the flu vaccination and help us spread this message far and wide.”

Coby Simons was a year 5 pupil at St Martin’s C of E Primary and Nursery School in Cranbrook, and as well as a love of maths, he enjoyed Ed Sheeran, wrestling and watching YouTube.

Dad Jamie, a stonemason, added: “We miss Coby every day and our life is not the same without him. This campaign means a lot to us and the vaccination may well have helped our little man. We don’t want anyone to go through what we’ve been through.”

The free vaccination programme has been extended this year meaning the nasal spray vaccine is offered to primary school children from reception through to and including year 5. In coming years the programme will roll out to all primary school children. Pre-schoolers aged 2-4 are also eligible for a free vaccine.

Children tend to be ‘super spreaders’ of flu, so protecting them is crucial for protecting the rest of the population, particularly those who have long-term conditions, elderly relatives or those with vulnerable immune systems.

The #ThumbsUpForCoby campaign is being run in partnership with Devon’s NHS and public health organisations who say getting the vaccination is simple.

Parents of children from reception class to school year five must give their consent for their child to have the vaccination at school and this year most schools in Devon are asking parents to use a simple online consent form – so make sure you check your inbox for the email or your child could miss out.

If your child is aged 2-4 (but is not in school) or has a long-term condition like asthma or diabetes, contact your GP and book them in for a free vaccination. Clinics are available now and are filling up so get in touch now to protect your child.

To help promote the campaign, thousands of ‘postcards’ featuring photos of a smiling Coby and a message from Louise and Jamie, are being distributed to children’s centres, GP practices, schools, leisure centres and libraries across Devon.

The campaign message has already been shared hundreds of times on social media with
parents giving it their ‘thumbs up’ by spreading the message and arranging vaccinations for
their children.

Dr Virginia Pearson, Director of Public Health Devon, said: “Louise and Jamie are helping
save the lives of other children with their heartfelt and powerful message. The #ThumbsUpForCoby campaign is already attracting wide support from other parents who are taking their advice and protecting their children.

“There is no cure for flu that we can give, so getting the vaccine is the single best way to prevent people catching flu and spreading it.”

To join the parents sharing the campaign message, use the #ThumbsUpForCoby hashtag on Facebook and Twitter.

On Facebook, one parent posted: “All booked in, thanks for the reminder.”

Another wrote: “Such a brave and selfless, caring thing to do #ThumbsUpForCoby.”

Remember, flu vaccines cannot give you flu. The injected flu vaccine given to adults contains inactivated flu viruses, so it can’t give you flu. Your arm may feel a bit sore where you were injected, and some people get a slight temperature and aching muscles for a couple of days afterwards. Other reactions are very rare.

The children’s nasal spray flu vaccine contains live but weakened flu viruses that will not
give your child flu.

More information is available online.