Engagement is about involving families in vaccine advocacy and community awareness. It’s the space that most coalitions feel is a natural fit for families. But it can also be a tricky widget since some coalitions are nervous about advocacy. So let’s be clear here: we’re talking about advocacy not lobbying. It can be confusing and a bit of a gray area. For our purposes, we consider advocacy-style engagement to be providing education and awareness of vaccine issues without urging lawmakers and policymakers to take a particular stance on any legislation. While some coalitions can legally be involved in lobbying, many cannot. So we’re staying away from anything that comes close to lobbying in this section. We also want coalitions to expand their idea of engagement beyond state legislatures. Schools boards, businesses, city councils, community boards–all of these places can make policies around vaccination, and families can be involved in educating these bodies in much the same way they may educate a legislator. On the following pages are some ideas of what coalitions from each tier can do to foster more family engagement.
While all lobbying is advocacy, not all advocacy is lobbying. Advocacy is any action that speaks in favor of, recommends, argues for a cause, supports or defends, or pleads on behalf of others. It includes public education, regulatory work, litigation, and work before administrative bodies, lobbying, nonpartisan voter registration, nonpartisan voter education, and more. Lobbying is communicating with decision-makers (elected officials, staff, and voters) about existing or potential legislation or measures, and urging a vote for or against. All three components of this definition are required: decision-makers, actual legislation, AND asking for a vote.
– Council of Nonprofits
Tier I Coalitions
Without direct relationship with families, engagement can seem like a tall order. But it doesn’t have to be. Did you know that Vaccinate Your Family already has great tools in place to increase effective engagement at both the state and national levels? Check it out on the Vaccinate Your Family website and share with partners and amplify our collective voices!
Tier II Coalitions
If you’re already working with some families, train them! Get them up to speed on vaccines, VPDs, and the science of vaccines so they are informed vaccine champions! If you’re not already working with families – put the call out. There are families in every state that have been saved by vaccines or tragically affected by non-vaccination. They want to be heard. Give them a voice! VFV may be able to help find these families for you so let us know if you need some support! Give your trained families support and a job! Provide them ways to engage with their communities such as talking with school officials. Have tangible asks during NIAM or NIIW. Make them feel valued and valuable!
Tier III Coalitions
Make your families compelling storytellers! Being a storyteller involves both art and science. And we’ve all seen the difference between a great storyteller and a mediocre presenter. So give your families the tools they need to be true storytellers. Have an involved and committed family? Let VFV know, we may be able to help them beef up their storytelling skills. Look in the resources section for some great storytelling tools and trainings, and resources. Give them an audience! Once you have a family trained on how to tell a compelling story, make sure you leverage them. Have them share their stories with legislators, record their stories for your website, have them talk with reporters.
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