Recently, the BSI has focused our external affairs work on childhood vaccination, conducting a variety of policy, media and public engagement initiatives, 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.
On Thursday 26 March we're celebrating the role of vaccination in improving global public health. We would like to encourage all BSI members to get involved and tell the world why the immunology community supports vaccination so strongly.
Show your support on social media
We will soon launch the social media campaign using the hashtag #CelebrateVaccines. As part of this, we have developed some animations to tell the story of how vaccines work and the role of researchers in developing new vaccines. Please share these far and wide! We had also scheduled a series of public engagement events on 26 March, but these have unfortunately been postponed due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19. We would like to extend our huge thanks to all the BSI members who volunteered to run events, and we plan to reschedule these for later in the year.
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.
Download our public engagement kit
We are also developing several new resources to assist our members in talking to the public about vaccination. These range from hands-on activities for science stands to presentations to give in schools. Our future #CelebrateVaccine events will make use of these – but they will also 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 this 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.
Head of External Affairs