Category: Opinion piece

An article in which the writer expresses their personal opinion, typically one which is controversial or provocative, about a particular issue or item of news.

The What If? Dilemma

by Vicky Laker |

It has come to that time of year where I am starting to think about my upcoming appraisal and I, like many others, struggle with the question “What achievements are you most proud of?” For some reason we just aren’t wired to take pride in our own hard work and achievements.

In the Client Services Team, we are constantly striving to improve and streamline the way we work – improving the offering that we can provide to our colleagues and clients. Our work is driven by the question “What If?” What If there is a better way to approach this project? What If there is a piece of software that can complete this job in a quarter of the time? What If there is a process that is more efficient?

At home, the What If question has also crept in – to varying degrees:

I’m out of fresh lime for my G&T, What If I used a slice of orange instead?

What If you really can panic-buy too much tinned soup?

What If my partner doesn’t get any more work this year?

What If one of us gets sick?

Some of these questions are simple – turns out a slice of orange in your G&T is rather lovely. But other questions open up a daunting world of uncertainty and we have all faced an awful lot of that in the past couple of years.

In her book, Daring Greatly, Brené Brown talks about the importance of vulnerability, of stepping out of your comfort zone and stepping into the arena:

Perfect and bulletproof are seductive, but they don’t exist in the human experience. We must walk into the arena… a new relationship, an important meeting, our creative process… with the courage and willingness to engage. Rather than sitting on the sidelines and hurling judgement and advice, we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen.”

That’s the beauty of the What If question – whilst it requires you to be vulnerable, to step into the arena and embrace the unknown, it is ultimately empowering. You are pushed to ask the more challenging questions of yourself. What If this method is no longer working for us? What If I had the one idea that makes all the difference to a client marketing campaign?  And that is also the beauty of working at a company like Makara. No matter what your career background or your position in the organisation, we are all actively encouraged every day, to step into the arena – everybody has a valid contribution, everyone has a valid viewpoint.

As a result, last year, I pledged myself to step into the arena more often. If someone sent a call out for ideas, I would respond with at least one contribution. When the request went out for a blog piece, I said yes. And I have continued to push for solutions for problems we thought were unsolvable – always asking the question What If? What if there is another way? What If we just aren’t asking the right questions yet?

When my annual review came around last year, Makara Health asked me What If you were the Client Services Team Manager? The offer was overwhelmingly flattering but also incredibly daunting. But here I am, nearly one year on, out of the comfort zone and firmly planted in the arena.

Why I’ve grown a tash and taken part in Movember as a Mo Bro

by James Lincoln |

It has been a pleasure to take part in Movember this year with Makara and my fellow “Mo Bros”. Raising awareness and funds by growing a moustache for a variety of fantastic causes really hit close to home. In particular the mental health aspect, as we all know us guys are not always the best at speaking out. I’ve been guilty in the past of bottling everything up, so I can vouch for that!

It has generally been improving over the years, but there is still such a stigma around mental health, especially among men. It can be a real barrier to seeking treatment, help or advice. Men may feel pressured to conform to the ‘Macho’ ideal. There is an obvious fear that mental health problems are a sign of weakness which generally stops men from opening up and speaking to others.

However I think we are starting to make progress, particularly with the younger generation. They tend to be far more open to the idea of reaching out and seeking help in times of distress, without the fear of tarnishing their masculinity, but it still remains an issue. In England, around one in eight men has a common mental health problem and three times as many men as women die by suicide.

Mental health has a heightened importance in my eyes, due to the last couple of years. A global pandemic is not easy for anyone, our lives have had to dramatically change, people have been isolated from loved ones and I know friends and family that have been directly impacted by the virus. We are not the best at talking at the best of times and taking away access to loved ones is a recipe for anguish.

But…if we can get more guys talking, and raise awareness and funds by growing a moustache, it seems like a very small price to pay for growing a bit of facial hair! It is definitely not my normal look, but it has been growing on me…

Growing a tash for Movember is  a great way to support a commendable cause. Mental health is a huge issue amongst men which is likely to be more prevalent due to the pandemic. In my view the more we can encourage others to speak up or to reach out, the better.

What’s not to like about Movember? Spreading the word, raising money, all whilst looking great…well…debatably!

Are the COVID-19 mRNA vaccines the culmination of a journey, or just a stepping stone?

by Matt Wheeler |

At the time of writing, at the end of November 2021, COVID-19 continues to dominate the headlines, and everyone’s lives. The vaccine booster program continues apace in the UK, with urgency growing following the discovery of a concerning new variant, Omicron. The coming weeks will determine how much of a roadblock this new heavily mutated version of the virus is likely to be.

It’s not always easy to say whether the pandemic era (so far) has gone by in a flash, or felt like forever – it’s realistically a personal feeling determined by all sorts of factors. However, what is indisputable is the unprecedented speed of the development and roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccines.

It’s probably pretty safe to say that most people had never heard of messenger RNA (mRNA) before Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna were thrust into the limelight in 2020 – in essence, it is genetic material that tells the body how to make proteins. There seems to be a misconception amongst some that this vaccine technology is brand new and developed at breakneck pace; however, mRNA vaccines have a storied history of development.

The question is – is this moment the triumphant culmination of the mRNA story (spoiler: almost certainly not) or an important milestone on the way to further innovation?

First, let’s take a brief look back at the history of mRNA vaccines. The path to success was not direct; for many years, mRNA was considered unsuitable for use as a drug or vaccine, due to its instability and cost. It was discovered in the 1960s, and, in 1978, fatty membrane structures called liposomes were used to transport mRNA into mouse and human cells, to deliver genetic material into cells and induce protein expression – the basis of the technique that would later see code for the COVID ‘spike protein’ delivered via vaccine to spark an immune response.

Investment and scientific innovation by hundreds of researchers in the decades since, including chemically modified RNA and fine-tuning of the liposome delivery system, led to the approvals of the mRNA vaccines currently forming the backbone of the global response to COVID-19.

mRNA vaccines have a number of potential benefits, including the possibility of rapid development and progress into clinical trials, and the capability of adapting to new strains (this may soon be tested by the afore-mentioned Omicron variant – vaccine manufacturers are already claiming that new vaccines might be ready in 100 days if it proves to be resistant to the current jabs).

There is certainly growing confidence that mRNA vaccines could have far-reaching applications in other infectious diseases; not just combating other respiratory viruses, such as influenza, but also malaria (an mRNA vaccine candidate is currently being tested at Oxford’s Jenner Vaccine institute) and HIV – described as being in a ‘fifth decade of a global pandemic’.

Over twenty mRNA-based immunotherapies have entered clinical trials for cancers, with some promising results in solid tumour treatments. Most cancer vaccines are therapeutic rather than prophylactic (with the exception of those for virus-induced malignancies, such as HPV). They must efficiently express tumour antigens and elevate immunity. Early results have demonstrated the potential of mRNA vaccines in treatment of advanced melanoma.

Earlier this month, promising early stage results were reported for an mRNA-based therapeutic for heart failure – patients undergoing coronary artery bypass surgery had an mRNA-encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) injected into the heart muscle, which is hoped to stimulate the repair and regeneration of the heart. Whilst more research is needed, there is potential for improving patient outcomes for heart failure, a chronic disease where half of patients die within five years of diagnosis.

It’s possible that mRNA technology could be refined still further. Self-amplifying mRNA vaccines encode a ‘replicase’ that enables amplification of the original strand of RNA in the cell, with the aim of much higher protein expression at lower doses. The path to mRNA vaccines has drawn on the work of hundreds of scientists and researchers over many decades. Their perseverance has already changed the course of a global pandemic, saving many lives – but it seems inevitable that there is far, far more to come. With technology that can be adapted at such pace, and with a perhaps unprecedented level of public scrutiny, clear and effective communication about mRNA vaccines and therapies will be vital.

World Mental Health Day: Putting wellbeing first when the clocks go back

by Louise Sharp |

The nights are drawing in and October gets into full swing with the leaves of the trees starting to change to their autumnal bronze, orange and yellow tones and I am packing for my first flight in over 18 months. With a tinge of excitement, I’m heading off to the airport to join a team from Makara Health who are running a 3-day face-to-face client training session in Scotland. Digging out the suitcase and hunting for ‘work’ clothes, I find myself reflecting on how life has changed since the first lockdown. I used to travel every week and it was almost automatic. Packing then did not need the amount of thought or brain power that this suitcase is taking!

How we use our minds, the stories we tell ourselves, and the habits we form intrigues me, particularly in relation to our mental health and wellness. Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, and as someone who struggles during the winter months with lack of sunlight, the approaching darker months signal a time for me to step up the exercise, actively do more to stave away the low moods, and get out into nature.

So in the run up to the clocks changing, I choose to #behappy. I’m digging out my ‘Happy’ lamp of sunshine, for the hours I spend at my desk, and will re-prioritise things that make me feel good. It is important for us all to look after our well-being and support the well-being of others. I am happy to support #HelloYello raising money for Young Minds, a charity fighting for young people’s mental health, very much close to my heart.

Measuring the science of hope in healthcare

by Matt Wheeler |

Anyone who has become a little introspective over the last 18 months can be excused. Many of us have suddenly found ourselves confined to our homes for extended periods, with reduced social interactions and facing down a pandemic with an uncertain timeline ahead. Last year, hope was something to hang on to, but optimism was perhaps harder to find.

“… hope may be understood as… attentional focus on the possibility that the future will be good, characteristically in the face of difficulty. Optimism, on the other hand… expectations that the future will be good (which may be with or without reasons)”1

Fortunately, with vaccines available and, hopefully, more effective therapeutics on the horizon, the outlook is brighter.

But what of hope in other areas of healthcare?

In medical communications, the concept and/or messaging of ‘giving hope to patients’ is a familiar (and noble) one. Relying on clinical data alone is rarely a path to effectively telling the story of a new drug or treatment’s merits: but everyone in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry is driven to improve the lives of patients.

Deborah James (broadcaster, author and member of the excellent ‘You, Me and the Big C’ podcast team) often talks about ‘hope and options’ sustaining her as she lives with stage IV bowel cancer.2,3 Hope can assist patients through the trajectory of illness, from initial diagnosis, through treatment and follow-up.4

Hope as a concept, and ‘staying positive’, are common discussion points in clinical care.1

Charles Snyder, an American psychologist specialising in positive psychology, developed a ‘Hope Theory’. This suggests that there are two inter-related components of hope:1

  • Pathway thinking (Way power)
    • Considering strategies to reach a goal or goals
    • Hopeful people tend to create many pathways to get around possible obstacles
  • Agency thinking (Willpower)
    • Being motivated, and feeling able to begin and progress towards goals

There are a variety of methods available to assess hope; the most widely used measure is the Adult Hope Scale, designed to assess hope as a stable characteristic of a person, rather than a fleeting psychological state (you can view the scale here:,5

Several studies have shown a connection between having a high level of hope and health-promoting behaviours, such as not smoking, regular exercise and health diet. Since these behaviours have been associated with improved outcomes in diseases such as cancer, it is possible that hope itself could ultimately be a predictor of a patient’s journey and outcomes.1

Various interventions, including teaching of cognitive coping techniques, PRISM (Promoting Resilience in Stress Management) and meaning-centred group psychotherapy have all demonstrated increased hopefulness in patients with cancer.1

Organisations such as ‘Life’s Door’ aim to empower hope, meaning and quality of life throughout illness, aging, and at the end of life – with a vision of including hope in the physician’s tool box as an essential medical intervention.6

We are all familiar with ‘hope’ as a concept – but we might not think of it as an aspect that can have a measurable impact on outcomes for patients, or we might believe that it is an innate characteristic that cannot be changed by external forces. Hope enhancement techniques could be an important tool as part of a holistic treatment plan, and may form an important part of patient support programs. My hope is that we continue to explore the possibilities, bringing hope and optimism to the forefront of healthcare.

  1. Long KNG, et al. Global Epidemiology 2020;2:100018. Available at: [Accessed September 2021].
  2. The Sun. ‘Options and Hope’: I’ve found new fire after 13th operation and want to make the most of every day. Available at: [Accessed September 2021].
  3. F*** You Cancer: How to face the big C, live your life and still be yourself. Deborah James. Published by Vermilion. 2018.
  4. Corn BW, et al. Lancet Oncol 2020;21:e452–59.
  5. The Trait Hope Scale. Available at: [Accessed September 2021].
  6. Life’s Door – Who We Are. Available at: [Accessed September 2021].

Sharing my Type 1 Diabetes Story: I can do anything I set my mind to

by Sarah Bundock |

It is Diabetes Awareness Week and this week I’ve been reflecting on ‘my wins’ and challenges since being suddenly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes (T1D) at the age of 30.

To say the diagnosis was a shock is an understatement. I started to have all the classic symptoms in a very short space of time (couple of months) – dramatic weight loss, tiredness, extreme thirst and hunger – even though I was constantly eating! No one else in my family has diabetes, although a few family members have auto immune conditions. I knew that something was not right as I was eating so much yet still losing a lot of weight. Luckily, I was working for a healthcare agency at the time and had some medical knowledge, so I took myself off to the GP and had a blood test. The GP then referred me quickly to the diabetes team at Trafford General who, within days, had initiated insulin and I was given all the kit I needed to help me manage my diabetes.

To begin with it was all a bit of a novelty, especially having all the medical devices. I was working on a glucose meter project at work at the time so knowledge as a patient came in quite handy. However, after about three years post-diagnosis I hit what I can only describe as a ‘brick wall’. I was doing everything that I’d been told to by my healthcare professional team but nothing seemed to be working and I wasn’t getting the control I wanted in terms of achieving my target HbA1c. As before, the Diabetes Nurse Specialist and Consultant reassured me that what I was experiencing was perfectly normal and in fact ‘I was a text book case!’ They told me that sometimes even if you are doing all the right things, managing your diabetes simply does not go the way you would want it and, rather than you controlling it, it feels like the diabetes is controlling you.

The Consultant told me at diagnosis that if I looked after myself and followed their advice there was no reason I would not live a healthy, normal, active life. I have always remembered this and considered myself lucky to be living at a time when medical advances meant that I could do just that. Sadly my diagnosis came between both my parents being diagnosed with terminal cancer (I know – terrible luck!). I was able to see the positives – at least it was a treatable disease. And at least I would still be able to follow my dream of having a child one day if I looked after myself (years ago diabetic women were advised not to have children).

Since having T1D I have run two marathons and had a healthy baby. These were mammoth challenges and accomplishments living with T1D.

My first marathon was Amsterdam in 2009 and the following year I ran Munich marathon. My diabetes team at Trafford General were supportive as always and helped me work out a plan during training. At the time I was on pre-filled pens but now I wear two devices – I wear an insulin pump and also a sensor to constantly monitor my blood glucose via an app on my mobile phone. These have greatly transformed the management and made it far more convenient than constant finger prick tests and injecting insulin from pre-filled pens.

Pregnancy should be planned in someone with T1D. I had to attend a pre-conception clinic to ensure my HbA1c was at the right level before I could try for a baby. I also had to take a higher dose of folic acid. Luckily because of all the running my HbA1c was at the right level so I didn’t have to wait long before I became pregnant. Pregnancy though was very challenging. There were scans every two weeks and my insulin dose changed constantly throughout the pregnancy. However I managed my diabetes well throughout pregnancy and, despite the challenges, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl!

My diabetes nurse once told me that, on average, a patient spends roughly 2 hours a day managing their diabetes. It is very time consuming and you can’t have a day off from it.

There have been many ups and downs living with diabetes. But my message to anyone who has been newly diagnosed, or to a parent whose child has just been diagnosed, is this – yes it is time consuming and inconvenient and unfair but with modern medicine it is treatable and it shouldn’t stop you from doing anything you want do. Living well with T1D requires a good relationship with diabetes healthcare professionals. But first and foremost it is important that you take responsibility for your own health and keep talking to your diabetes team who have specialist knowledge and who are there to help and support you.

So have fun and live your life!

Growing your mental health

by Lauren Wildman |

After what has been a long and challenging year for most, in and out of various lockdowns- and rules on what we can and cannot do changing as frequently as we change our clothes, many of us have come to realise how important our mental health is, and just how easily it can be affected. Personally, I’ve found myself feeling angry and frustrated, mostly at not being able to see friends and family. Over the last year I’ve cried more than I ever have in my life, and having a physical shoulder of a friend to cry on has created its own strains on my emotions. Our mental health impacts so many aspects of our lives, including our workplaces, relationships and self-esteem. With Mental Health Awareness Week taking place last week, I’ve had time to reflect on what the past year has taught us about our mental health, and how we can support ourselves and those around us.

Speaking out has been a key take-away for me this year. Last March, my final year of university came to an abrupt end with the onset of Lockdown 1.0. The dream summer working abroad in America, having a beautiful graduation with my peers and moving out of my parents place all crumbled before my eyes. Feeling a mixture of anger and numbness that I’d never felt before, I kept this inside, pushing it down as much as possible before it began to affect day-to-day life. I eventually found the courage to speak to my GP, who put me in touch with Talking Therapies. Once I had reached out for help, I felt so much better. My continued efforts with Talking Therapies began to pay off, opening up to those around me and discovering I was not alone in struggling with my mental health.

Nature was the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and it’s understandable why. During the long months of lockdown, along with millions of others, I turned to nature as a way to cope with the mundanity of lockdown life. From sitting in the garden soaking in the sun, to escaping on walks and visiting parks and nature reserves I had never previously had time for. The pandemic gave me the opportunity to explore the green spaces around me. Ensuring I continue to make time to spend outside in one way or another is something I am keen to carry through to the next (hopefully less eventful) year.

Bringing nature inside has also had a huge impact on my mental wellbeing. Having never been green fingered- or someone who has felt at one with nature, I was extremely skeptical when I was gifted an orchid as a  housewarming present -unsure if I would be able to keep it alive. Six months later and my orchid is still going strong and is now accompanied by another orchid, a snake plant, a monkey mask monstera and a variety of succulents, and the windowsill now resembles nothing so much as a greenhouse. Plants have been proven to reduce stress, and to boost concentration and memory, all vital aspects for good mental health. Here at Makara Health, as part of Mental Health Awareness Week we were gifted seeds and a plant pot for our desk spaces- and I’m looking forward to watching my seedlings grow, making my desk become a little greener.

I hope that this Mental Health Awareness Week has made you reflect on the last year, the lessons you’ve learnt about your own mental wellbeing, and the resilience we’ve all gained from the ups and downs of the pandemic.

To learn more about Talking Therapies please visit

What inspires you?

by Louise Sharp |

It is #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek and I have stopped for a few minutes to think about what good mental health means to me. This little blog is too short to list the many things it could mean, and the many times we sacrifice our own well-being because something seems more important. But, I found myself asking, what inspires me? When do I feel in that happy place where my mind feels free, when I see opportunity, when curiosity overcomes the to do list, when I give myself permission to be me? Only this morning I was walking in my garden with the dogs marvelling at how alive the garden felt, seeing the leaves come out in the trees and the budding flowers, hearing the bird song, and feeling the dewy grass underfoot. It felt good to be outdoors and connect with nature and that always resets me mentally.

We all know the benefits of good mental health and the importance of raising awareness to help colleagues and friends who may be struggling. 

This Mental Health Awareness Week @MakaraHealth is #ConnectingwithNature and bringing the outside in. We are creating a little haven in our offices planting seeds in our Makara growing pots, and we will share our successes as we see the seeds flourish over the coming months. We will also be focusing on getting ourselves outdoors and giving ourselves permission to focus on our own personal well-being.

It has been a year like no other and personal resilience and growth are such an important human need. Alongside our Makara seeds, we have the lovely Carole Leybourne running a Resilience and Yoga workshop this week for many of the team, providing time to learn something new and explore ways to maintain a level of calm and to build our resilience.

#wellbeingmatters, #healthcarecomms, #mentalhealthawarenessweek, #connectingwithnature

Groundhog Day and Gratitude

by Louise Sharp |

Tuesday 23rd March 2021 was National Day of Reflections and I find myself looking back over the year which, in a nutshell, has been a year like no other. Back in March 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic was taking grip and the first lockdown was announced, I was sat at home in France, where I’d been living for 4 years. As an agency-owner and leader, an uncomfortable sense of panic gripped me as I sat writing a business contingency plan and wondering what on earth was happening in the world and would I have any agency anymore. My norm was to board a flight every Monday or Tuesday and head off to London or Zurich or to a host of other client destinations as my week would then unfold amid client meetings, hotels, new business meetings, quite literally every day was different. Boy has that changed.

As agencies we embrace difference, and in fact the Makara model of agile working has become the new normal for everyone as we have all embraced new and flexible ways of working when we were asked to stay at home and stay safe.

Do I miss my old norm. Yes, definitely, absolutely. Agile working for me has never been about staying at home, in fact it has been about freedom of choice, ability to flex the system to best meet our personal needs. So, whilst we continue to work in a similar manner, to comply with the important stay at home and stay safe messages, the restrictions on us change our options. The sense of Groundhog Day with a diary full of Teams, Zoom, WebEx, virtual catch-ups, virtual drinks etc, is commonplace to many of us. When life in theory slowed down with less places to go, less things to do – work life just got faster with our ability to port ourselves from one client meeting to another in 30 seconds as we zoom into one room, then 59 minutes later, smile and wave as we zoom out and back into another room, with little time to mentally close down from one meeting before shifting gear and mental space to another project.  No time to walk down a company corridor with some pleasantries as we pass people to just say hello.

Having said that, the year has not been without its high points of achievements, gratitude, growth and challenge.

For Makara it has been an award-winning year. I am truly thankful and delighted for the incredible team at Makara to be recognised as PMEA Support Agency of the Year, along with other winning accolades at the PMEAs in Patient Education and Support and Rare Diseases. Shortly followed by PharmaTimes International Communications Team of the year, and most recently the two silvers at the PM Society Awards.

And who’d have thought that celebrating my big ‘five oh’ would delight me by putting me in Group 9 for the vaccination program to receive my first jab on super Saturday.

So, for me, a big year; a year of two house moves and my return to the UK, many dog walks in the forest, a pure and total focus on well-being and mental wellness, many weekend cycles (definitely my happy place), discovering new crafting skills, making time to connect with people to just say hi, and maybe notice those who are having a more difficult time and lending a helping hand. My heart goes out to all families who have suffered or lost loved ones during this year.

As we step closer to a little more freedom as lockdown eases, I am curious as to what we have all learnt from this year. What do we want to keep, what do we want to leave firmly behind, and what do we need to change to make our world a better place?

Embracing creative communications to tackle vaccine hesitancy

by Gurjit Chahal |

The challenge is underway to vaccinate people against COVID-19 and we’ve seen great strides made in the UK, with the government pledging that all UK adults will be offered the vaccine by the end of July this year, which could be met even sooner. While we have demonstrated we can meet this huge logistical challenge, the impact of vaccinations will only be effective if we have high uptake rates.

A key barrier to uptake and a major public health concern is vaccine hesitancy. UK research shows high levels of mistrust about vaccines. For example, 14% of people have reported unwillingness to receive a vaccine for COVID-19, whilst 23% were unsure. Reasons for hesitancy include safety concerns, preference for natural immunity, concerns about commercial profiteering and general distrust in the benefit of vaccines[1]. This is likely to be compounded by recent coverage from Europe and beyond, raising doubts around the Oxford vaccine.

The levels of distrust are even higher among ethnic minority groups1. Growing up in an Indian family I know first-hand the number of times I’ve had to explain to elderly relatives the importance of following the latest scientific evidence in medical care.  Addressing these issues is critical since ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and many are working on the frontline.

My view is that a major part of vaccine hesitancy is due to these groups hearing misinformation through word of mouth and non-scientifically supported sources. This is driven by cultural factors including strong community interdependence among the older generation. To address this problem I think we need more creative communications which connects in the best possible way with the target audience and inspires change for the better. Putting it simply it’s not what you say but how you say it.

It’s great to see creativity being applied to the challenge in mainstream media. Firstly, last month the UK’s major broadcasters aired a #TakeTheVaccine campaign encouraging ethnic-minority communities to get vaccinated against COVID-19. The video united prominent figures, including Adil Ray, Moeen Ali, Denise Lewis, Romesh Ranganathan, Meera Syal, David Olusoga and Beverley Knight, who address vaccine hesitancy among ethnic-minority communities and debunk myths about the vaccine.

Secondly, we can incorporate more fun and humour into communications. For example, in addition to the comedians featured in the #TakeTheVaccine video, there is the potential for other influencers to deliver impactful communications that can go viral. For example, Dolly Parton who reworked Jolene after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine.

Finally, in addition to the top-down approaches above, we need grassroots campaigning by collaborating with local religious leaders, community groups and influencers who can deliver authentic, empathetic, and trusted messages to a wide audience. This work started last year when Adil Ray created stay-at-home videos tailored for British Asian audiences.

Vaccine hesitancy is not a new issue and we’ve seen the impact on key vaccination programmes such as MMR and HPV. However, if we look beyond boundaries and limitations, we can counter-balance misinformation with creative and relevant content like the #TakeTheVaccine campaign. This cut through the noise and did a great job of building an emotional connection with audiences and has the potential to help change beliefs and, through them, behaviours.


  1. Paul E, Steptoe A, Fancourt D. Attitudes towards vaccines and intention to vaccinate against COVID-19: Implications for public health communications. The Lancet Regional Health – Europe. doi: 10.1016/j.lanepe.2020.100012.