There has never been a more important time for researchers to engage with the public around vaccination by listening and addressing common questions and concerns. BSI members and the wider research community are ideally placed to be expert sources of knowledge in these dialogues.
Getting started in these conversations can seem daunting, so here we have collated a variety of great resources from the BSI to support you in raising your voice. These resources are free for everyone and we encourage BSI members to use these materials as part of their public engagement activities.
We can all be positive role models for vaccination within our family and friendship networks and wider communities – great engagement starts at home!
How to discuss vaccines with the public
For our annual 'vaccine engagement day' in 2022 we revitalised public engagement efforts and raised the expert voice of the immunology community in #VaccineConversations. We asked you to share your public engagement successes and challenges from COVID-19 vaccine engagement, including your ideas to apply those learnings when talking about childhood, flu or any other vaccines. The response we received from our members, immunologists, researchers and organisations was incredible – thank you to everyone who got involved!
We have taken the experiences and advice shared by you on the day, and together with our expert tips on having constructive conversations about vaccinations, we've created a graphic showcasing some top tips for engaging with the public about vaccines. The aim of these tips is to inspire immunologists to approach conversations in an effective way and encourage everyone to talk about all vaccines when in the context of public engagement e.g. during a science festival-related activity, online engagement on social media, talking to family and friends and sharing information with communities.
Find your way to #ExploreVaccines
There are many ways to play a role in informing the public about vaccination. Immunologists are ideally placed to be expert sources of knowledge in these vital dialogues, but as a diverse community, each person will have their own approach and style. We want to encourage you to find your vaccine engagement path and support you in the process.
There is a wide range of concepts to explore, strategies to embark on conversations and channels to reach the public. To help you in this journey, we have developed five characters that we believe exemplify different aspects of effective public engagement:
- The open book. Tell your story. Make a video or write a piece about what you do as a scientist and your personal experience with vaccines. Please remember to tag @britsocimm so we can amplify your message.
- The sounding board. Listen to concerns, understand worries and acknowledge frustrations from the public by using the BSI graphics.
- The helping hand. Lift others up. Lots of immunologists have been engaging with the public.
- The magnifying glass. Go in depth into a particular area or concern – for example, you could choose one question from our childhood vaccine guide to address.
- The bridge builder. Engage with your community and help build a supportive forum to connect others to your expert knowledge.
Top tips for discussing vaccines
We also have a briefing for immunologists who would like to engage with the public around vaccines. The aim of these tips is to increase confidence in talking about vaccines with a wide range of audiences.