doctor holding syringe and using cotton before giving an injection to patient in medical mask

COVID-19 Vaccine: How voluntary organisations can play a role in communications

Published: 02/12/20 | Categories: Author: Elen Notley

Elen Notley, Marketing and Communications Manager at WCVA outlines how voluntary organisation can support the roll out of the COVID-19 vaccine in Wales by sharing communications.

As we approach the launch of COVID-19 vaccination here in Wales, WCVA and CVCs (County Voluntary Councils) have been working closely with Public Health Wales and Welsh Government to identify the role of the voluntary sector in the roll out.

The voluntary sector here in Wales has been invaluable over the past few months in supporting our communities during the pandemic, with countless volunteers and organisations stepping up to support those in need and help take pressure off the NHS. Now the introduction of a vaccine brings new hope that we will get closer to a different form of normality within the next year, but it will not be a quick process.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN NEXT?

There will only be small quantities of a vaccine at first, so it will be offered to those who need it most when it can be done safely and effectively.

The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has made recommendations for the prioritisation of COVID-19 vaccines. Wales and other UK administrations will be guided by the recommendations.

As you will know the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has given emergency approval for the use of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine. A second vaccine (Oxford/AstraZeneca) has submitted their evidence to MHRA and, based upon the data provided on effectiveness, will be able to approve the use of this vaccine.

We know that the vaccine’s success will be determined by the number of people who receive the vaccine.  Encouraging as many people as possible to be vaccinated is incredibly important to ensure that the virus is held in check across Wales.

Everyone has their part to play but in the meantime the message remains the same that we should all regularly wash our hands, keep at a social distance and wear a face covering in indoor public spaces, as regulated, so we protect ourselves and others in our communities.

WHAT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE SO FAR?

Public Health Wales and Welsh Government have already published information about the vaccine in preparation for its launch which is now available at the link below:

phw.nhs.wales/covid-19-vaccination

As COVID-19 is a new strain of the Coronavirus, many people will have lots of queries and concerns. Below are some useful Q&As to answer some of these:

phw.nhs.wales/topics/immunisation-and-vaccines/covid-19-vaccination-information/about-the-vaccine/

There are also communication resources now available for organisations to adopt and share:

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Valuing Vaccines is also a useful campaign which provides facts around how vaccines work and save lives. The below link provides information and resources for sharing in communications:

https://www.valuingvaccines.org.uk/

WHAT CAN VOLUNTARY ORGANISATIONS DO TO SUPPORT COMMUNICATIONS?

As trusted voices who work closely with communities, specific groups who need to be prioritised in receiving the vaccine and pockets of our communities who may be harder to reach, voluntary organisations can help the roll out by sharing information about the vaccine programme.

Communicating the process of receiving a vaccine, Q&As, the facts around its effectiveness and other key information, will help to ensure as many people as possible understand how the vaccine works and the process of receiving it.

Voluntary organisations can also support the roll out by engaging in an open line of communication with WCVA and CVCs to share feedback from the ground. There will be lots of queries and concerns from the public and so by sharing with us what you are hearing from communities and individuals, then we can ensure this information is passed on to Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to continuously shape the programme over the next year.

The effective, consistent and transparent wide-reaching communication on vaccines and their availability will be crucial.

HOW TO GET INVOLVED?

WCVA will be supporting organisations by sharing communications tools to then circulate with your networks and service users. This may include campaign packs, social media graphics, animations, leaflets, and content specifically designed for your audiences based on the priority phasing of the vaccine roll out.

We would like to hear from you if there are specific communications tools you believe would benefit your audiences and your ability to engage with them on the vaccine, for example if you are in regular contact with people who are digitally excluded or require multi-lingual information. We will continue to work closely with CVCs, Welsh Government and Public Health Wales to develop these tools.

On 26 November 2020, WCVA hosted an initial webinar to give voluntary organisation insight into the plans for the vaccine roll out in Wales, how voluntary organisations can support with communications and to facilitate a Q&A. We will be hosting similar sessions regularly going forward to provide updates, share insight, and pull together any feedback we receive, to then inform relevant parties.

This will help to ensure that communications throughout the vaccine programme are responding to the information needs of our communities. To register your interest in attending these sessions, or to enquire about specific communications tools please contact enotley@wcva.cymru

WHAT ABOUT VOLUNTEERING?

Conversations regarding volunteer support for mass roll out of the vaccine are ongoing. Vaccine centres will be managed by local health boards and WCVA and CVCs will be helping to co-ordinate volunteer support. We will update the sector as soon as we have further information on this.

If you’d like email updates on the latest COVID-19 news for the voluntary sector in Wales, please sign up here.