Our 'Vaccine engagement starts...' series showcases examples of how BSI members are COVID-19 vaccine ambassadors. Our hope is that, through highlighting a range of the wonderful and impactful activities our members have been carrying out, others will be inspired to begin engaging with the public on vaccines.
There are many different ways to be a positive role model for vaccination. You can start with the people around you, like your family and friends, or reach out to wider communities. You might want to have conversations face-to-face or may be more comfortable in a virtual setting. Maybe you're looking to hone your writing skills or you fancy stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new?
Explore these case studies to find inspiration. The more people involved, the bigger an impact we can make. Join our mission to increase public understanding of the importance of vaccination!
Vaccine engagement starts...
…as part of a BSI Regional Group
BSI member, Dr Brian Ferguson shares his thoughts on the change to public engagement over the past 12 months, how to maximise positive interactions online and the benefits of working as part of a team. Read it here.
"Whichever way you choose, the data around combating vaccine hesitancy is very clear – listening to individuals, making them feel heard, providing information, answering their questions – that’s the most effective way." Dr Brian Ferguson
…knowing your role as an immunologist
BSI member, Professor Neil Mabbott recommends different strategies for effective communication around COVID-19 vaccines and draws attention to the role and value of immunologists in these vital conversations. Read it here.
"If you’re apprehensive about public engagement, remember that your role as an immunologist is to explain, not to defend something. You’re there to provide information and explain complex immunological matters." Professor Neil Mabbott
…learning from your loved ones
BSI member, Dr Dammy Pinheiro shares how speaking to friends and family gave her the confidence and skills to help others make informed choices about COVID-19 vaccination. Read it here.
"I will carry on connecting with people and sharing my experience to help them make informed choices, and I strongly feel that as immunologists, we must all do so relentlessly." Dr Dammy Pinheiro
…by shifting your perspective
BSI member, Professor Danny Altmann speaks about how he has been re-educating himself and focussing on understanding concerns to have productive conversations with the public. Read it here.
"Immunologists, this is the job that you love and that you’ve trained for all your life. This is the time to use all our knowledge in the war against the virus and to help others feel confident about COVID-19 vaccination." Professor Danny Altmann
…working with the media
BSI member, Dr Zania Stamataki highlights her positive experience working closely with journalists and how public engagement has opened a lot of doors for her career. Read it here.
"Now is the time for immunologists to make the most of the opportunity to communicate our knowledge to the public and build the systems and trust needed for global vaccination in the future." Dr Zania Stamataki
...from personal experience and self-confidence
BSI member, Professor Ann Ager considers why she wants to share her immunology knowledge, goes through detailed strategies to prepare your own presentation, and emphasises the importance of feeling confident. Read it here.
"I feel that these conversations are extremely important. My message to other BSI members would be to make sure that you feel confident. Start by thinking about what you have to offer and then, give it a go with a rehearsal." Professor Ann Ager
...by engaging with your local community
BSI member, Dr Donald Palmer shares his thoughts on the importance of community engagement, how to go about it and why every immunologist’s voice matters. Read it here.
"We all communicate differently, we have different accents and different personalities, and this will help us reach a variety of people around the UK. By continually having this conversation, the message is more likely to get through to people who have questions." Dr Donald Palmer
…as an undergraduate student
BSI member, Lois Mason talks about her experience creating video explainers about how vaccines and the immune system work and highlights how it’s possible to make a difference as a student. Read it here.
"As an undergraduate student, you can feel that you don’t have a voice, and this can hold you back in some ways. But actually, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t speak out!" Lois Mason
…volunteering with St John Ambulance
BSI Forum Early Career Representative, Dr Louise Topping shares her experience as Volunteer Patient Advocate with St John Ambulance and how her immunology background has been an advantage. Read it here.
"Delivering a message on the safety and efficacy of vaccines to as many people as possible is essential. The more people you can have actively spreading accurate information, the better the outcome." Dr Louise Topping
BSI Forum Early Career Representative, Dr Faith Uwadiae discusses her science communication journey and her learnings from sharing facts about COVID-19 vaccines through 60 second videos on TikTok. Read it here.
“We should never underestimate what we can do with our background and knowledge – a small conversation can have such a big impact in people’s lives." Dr Faith Uwadiae
…in your university networks
BSI member, Dr Natalie Riddell talks about the role of immunologists in public engagement and how she has been working with her local networks and the alumni community to build vaccine confidence in informative online sessions. Read it here.
“You don’t have to reach a huge number of people, but you can share your knowledge with friends, family and colleagues. At least it’s a start!” Dr Natalie Riddell
… with a science communication blog
BSI member, Dr Daniel Patten shares what he learned from writing a comprehensive blog sorting fact from fiction and appearing in the local news and encourages other researchers to embark upon public engagement. Read it here.
“Team up with other people around you to add more weight to what you’re trying to say. It is quite scary to raise your head above the parapet and have the spotlight on you, but it’s less daunting with someone else.” Dr Daniel Patten
…at the Swansea Science Festival
BSI South Wales Immunology Group members, Dr Becky Aicheler and Dr Simone Cuff, give their perspective of running a virtual #CelebrateVaccines session in a live interactive format at the Swansea Science Festival. Read it here.
“I think it can be easy to take for granted the expertise we have as a scientist and I believe it’s important that we communicate our understanding to the general public.” Dr Becky Aicheler
“The people involved in science engagement tend to genuinely like helping others. These are people that are nice to know and work with.” Dr Simone Cuff
Are you a BSI member involved in public engagement around COVID-19 vaccines? We'd love to hear from you! Please get in touch with our Marketing & Communications Manager, Teresa Prados, to share your experience as part of our new case study series 'Vaccine engagement starts...'.
Click here to find out more about the BSI's public engagement campaign Vaccine engagement starts at home. We’re always looking for members to help bring the expert immunology voice so if you'd like to get involved with our public engagement work, don't hesitate to contact our Public Engagement Manager, Erika Aquino.