In June 2022 I was moved to write this article in response to a disturbing NHS COVID-19 vaccine advertising campaign, which appeared to be directly targeting children aged five to 11 years by using cartoon superhero characters and a party invitation style leaflet promoting COVID-19 vaccine pop-up clinics for primary school-age children. Although sent to their parents, the poster directly addressed children with the bold title ‘Calling All Superhero Kids’ and was designed in the style of a children’s party invitation, with cartoon superhero branding, large writing and bright, eye-catching colours. At the time I commented that:
For the NHS to be directly targeting young children under 12 to encourage them to take a novel medical treatment and in such a superficial and coercive way is completely unethical and abhorrent.
I was shocked to see a similarly unethical initiative advertised on a London GP practice’s social media a few days ago. Its tweet (now removed following our comments– photo below) was excitedly advertising its ‘Annual Peppa Pig’s Flu Clinic’ with promises of party food, soft play and other kids activities, as a fun and desirable setting to receive their flu vaccine.
Further investigation revealed that the Richmond Road Medical Centre’s Peppa Pig Flu Clinic has been running since 2021, with a post promoting the 2021 clinic on the GP practice’s Facebook page and this 2022 clinic highlights video and event update below posted on their website:
Peppa Pig’s Flu Clinic – September 2022
We had a brilliant turnout at our second Peppa Pig themed flu clinic at the Surgery.
In response to the local Polio outbreak, we also offered polio boosters to eligible children. The event was action-packed with an array of fun activities for the children to enjoy which included face-painting, arts and crafts, a bouncy castle and of course the chance to meet and greet Peppa herself!
Dr. Jonathan Engler, Co-Chair of HART, also flagged up in this tweet another poster from Richmond Road Medical Centre, using the same Peppa Pig marketing but this time to plug its COVID-19 Vaccine Clinic for “vulnerable” children – which in reality includes perfectly healthy children who live with a so-called “vulnerable” adult.