Refining vaccine safety communciations

Vaccine safety concerns, founded or unfounded, can become an obstacle to immunization programmes. While the media are often perceived to be part of the problem when a vaccine-related event occurs, when managed in a responsible and transparent way they can also become part of the solution. Working with mass media can have significant advantages in reassuring the public on vaccine safety.

In order to help Ministry of Health EPI (Expanded Programme on Immunization) managers and health promotion units benefit from strong communication principals and strategies, WHO/Europe has produced a new guide entitled “Vaccine Safety Events: managing the communications response”. It is a practical tool written collaboratively by five immunization experts.

The guide begins by focussing on how to assess the situation, whether it is appropriate to communicate and if so how. It then moves on to planning, how to develop your message and deal with rumours. There are templates for plans, press releases and lots of other useful resources.

With rapid advances in technology, social media and information consumption, even the most experienced communicators and health promoters sometimes have to run to keep up. This guide is designed to help.

The guide is currently only available in English, but the Russian version is coming soon.