Unfortunately, due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, we have decided to postpone the public engagement events planned for 26 March. We would like to extend our huge thanks to all the BSI members who volunteered to run events. For 26 March, we still plan to go ahead with our online #CelebrateVaccines campaign and make a loud noise from the research community to support vaccinations.
Over the next few months, we are launching several projects to highlight the importance of vaccination in improving global public health. Our Head of External Affairs, Jennie Evans, discusses how we're representing the voice of researchers who work on vaccines and how BSI members can get involved.
Recently, the BSI has focused our external affairs work on childhood vaccination, conducting a variety of policy, media and public engagement initiatives, all with the aim of improving public understanding of the importance of vaccination and increasing overall uptake rates of childhood vaccinations in the UK. Through this work, we have established ourselves in ‘vaccine advocacy’ circles, which led us into our next project.
The next GAVI Replenishment Conference will be hosted by the UK on 3–4 June this year. GAVI, the Vaccine Alliance, was established 20 years ago with the aim of protecting the most vulnerable children in the world from preventable infectious diseases. Through working with partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the World Health Organization and UNICEF, to date GAVI has immunised more than 760 million children and helped low-income countries to prevent more than 13 million future deaths through its support for routine immunisation programmes and campaigns. The June conference will see world leaders announce their country’s monetary contribution to GAVI’s next strategic cycle, which aims to raise $7.4 billion to immunise 300 million children and save more than 7 million lives.
As a strong supporter of vaccination, the BSI has been working with the UK’s Department for International Development and other partners including the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, UNICEF, Wellcome Trust and RESULTS UK, to carry out a series of events to highlight the importance of vaccination in improving global public health. The BSI comes to this collaboration to represent the voice of researchers who work on vaccines. We have several projects planned which we hope many of you will get involved with, either in person or by supporting us on social media.
Vaccination is such a success story for the immunology community; we call on you to support us in highlighting the importance of this and the role that researchers play on an international stage.
We’re running a mass public and social media engagement day on Thursday 26 March. As part of this, we are funding members to run engagement events on vaccines – 18 events will take place around the country, from Edinburgh to Brighton, in settings including schools, hospitals, evening talks and city centres. We’re so excited by the BSI community’s response to this call; details will be on our website soon. Please do support your fellow BSI members in their activities; however, if you can’t get to the events in person, there’s still lots you can do to support ‘Celebrate Vaccines’.
Show your support on social media – we will soon launch a social media campaign using the #CelebrateVaccines hashtag to show our community’s support of vaccination. As part of this, we’re developing some animations to tell the story of how vaccines work and the role of researchers in developing new vaccines. We’d like to encourage all BSI members to get involved on 26 March and tell the world why the immunology community supports vaccination so strongly.
Download our public engagement kit – we’re developing several new resources to assist our members in talking to the public about vaccination. This includes everything from hands-on activities for science stands to presentations to give at schools. Many of the 26 March events will make use of these, but we hope they will also become a long-lasting resource that our members can use. In the longer term, they will all be available to download for free from our website, with kits available on request from our office too.
What else do we have planned?
To highlight every immunologist’s favourite day – 29 April, which is of course International Day of Immunology – we are developing a new policy report to celebrate the UK’s contributions to vaccine R&D and the impact of this work in improving global public health. We'll bring you more details on this project soon.
Celebrate Vaccines is a hugely important initiative for the BSI, allowing us to partner with the international community to champion the importance of vaccine research and the critical role it plays in improving global public health. We’re immensely proud of the contribution that immunologists make to these efforts and hope that you will join us to #CelebrateVaccines and ensure the expert voice of the immunology community is raised loud and proud in support of vaccination. If you have any questions, or would like to get involved, please do get in touch.
Head of External Affairs, BSI