Back in October 2020, in a fit of frustration in our pandemic situation and desire to do something helpful in these crazy Covid times, I registered on the Government Communication Service (GCS) website. I wanted to do something constructive, thinking I may be able to use my communications experience to support and make a difference in some small way. I didn’t expect to get a call inviting me to join the strategic vaccine comms team in the Department of Health and Social Care. By the end of November 2020 I was in the team.
A week later the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved our first vaccine in the UK, the Pfizer vaccine. Then a couple of weeks later it was the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine being approved. The NHS was administering the first vaccines from 8 December 2020. The pace of the programme was set.
Over the last six months the vaccine comms team has grown as we provided ‘air traffic control’ to ensure consistent communications about vaccines across Whitehall, the NHS and PHE, and externally with stakeholders from charities to local authorities and community groups across the UK.
I am so grateful for the opportunity to work with such a brilliant team of communications professionals and the privilege to work on such an important and fascinating project. To be at the heart of it, working at such a pace, to support the real-life urgency that this work needed was an experience I will remember fondly. I was a small cog in a big team and what an incredible experience to learn and grow!
The work took me right out of my comfort zone having never worked in central government before. But I’m so glad I stepped out of that zone and feel really quite proud to have played a part in this huge public engagement and information programme. What an incredible collective achievement to see millions now having had or about to get their vaccines, and the big shift in public awareness of and confidence in vaccines in the last six months.
Today, I’m back to my business full time after keeping it ticking along during my six months in vaccines comms. I’m looking forward to what comes next, taking a little time to rest and reset over half term and then I’ll be back to my world of Little Bird Communication.