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Swine flu vaccination take-up soars
KISS OF LIFE: Lorraine Robinson, pictured with her daughters Naomi and Abigail, who were vaccinated against swine flu following a campaign in the Daily Echo. Echo picture by Matt Watson. Order no: 10167455
IT was the touching plea from grieving parents mourning the death of their 23-month-old only son from swine flu, which could save hundreds of children’s lives.
Distraught Sarah-Jane and Iain McCall found the courage to speak out about the moment they went to wake their seemingly healthy toddler Andrew up on Christmas morning but found him dead in his cot in a bid to prevent other trag ic young deaths.
The Daily Echo launched the campaign Do It For Andrew urging parents to get their healthy children aged six months to five year olds immunised before it was too late on Wednesday, March 31.
Now the free vaccination programme has halted, scores of mums and dads have come forward saying they did it for Andrew potentially saving hundreds of young lives.
Lorraine Robinson, who was Andrew’s swim instructor at Little Swim Academy, has taken both her girls Naomi, three, and Abigail, five, for the jab since hearing about the tragedy.
The mum-of-two from Fareham, said: “A child has died so we knew we had to do it to prevent another young death. We have all done it for Andrew.
“I don’t know any child who isn’t vaccinated now.”
Another Daily Echo reader Kerry Ross, from Chandler’s Ford, vaccinated her five-year-old daughter Chloe against swine flu.
The 27-year-old part time travel agent, said: “When I was reading the article about Andrew I couldn’t finish it because my eyes had welled up and I was in tears.
“Ever since, I have spread the message to my friends to stop the tragedy happening to anyone else. Telling just five people would mean five children are potentially saved.”
GPs across Hampshire have reported a surge in people getting the injection and health chiefs are expecting the number to have shot up when official figures will be released on Wednesday, April 7.
Practice manager of White House Surgery, in Weston, Mike Windibank, said: “The Daily Echo campaign has given people the opportunity to know how to get their children protected.
“There have been a number of people come in for the vaccination. Maybe they would not have walked through the door if the newspaper had not highlighted the issue.”
Andrew’s parents Sarah-Jane and Iain, both 35, have been determined to speak out about their tragedy so other parents will not go through their pain.
Sarah-Jane, a social worker, said: “Many people who have been unsure have contacted their GP and had their children vaccinated against swine flu since seeing Andrew’s story. It doesn’t make our loss any less, but we are glad others have taken action and Andrew’s tragic and entirely preventable death has not been in vain.
“Knowing others will not suffer as we are at present gives us a little peace.
“We are very grateful to the Daily Echo for running the campaign and to all our friends who have supported us through this difficult time while continuing to spread the word about Andrew’s death and the importance of getting young children vaccinated.”