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OVG based at the Department of Paediatrics scoops the top prize for public engagement at this year's OxTALENT Awards.

The OxTALENT annual awards recognise members of the University who have made innovative use of digital technology in order to:

  • Foster learning and academic practice at either undergraduate or postgraduate level;
  • Develop more effective links between teaching and research; or
  • Improve impact through outreach and public engagement.

The public engagement category recognises initiatives that have used technology to engage audiences beyond the University in a two-way process of enhancing knowledge and understanding.

Professor Andrew Pollard, Sarah Loving and Yama Farooq were recognised for their outstanding work on the Vaccine Knowledge Project.

 

I was surprised and pleased that the Vaccine Knowledge Project received this award, as there were some other very impressive projects in the running. It's a great acknowledgement of all the work we've put into the website and the app. - Sarah Loving

Although not many UK parents refuse vaccinations outright, many more are ‘vaccine hesitant’, selectively refusing or delaying vaccines or seeking reassurances about their safety before they proceed. It is increasingly easy to find misleading and scaremongering information about vaccines online, while there are fewer websites that promote good-quality balanced information. To help to fill this gap, Oxford Vaccine Group (OVG) here in the Department of Paediatrics set up The Vaccine Knowledge Project (VKP) website.

 

The website provides comprehensive information about vaccines, infectious diseases, vaccine safety issues, and the origin and safety of ingredients in licensed vaccine products. It thereby makes publicly available the evidence, knowledge and data that is available to the research community, enabling adults, parents and young people to make informed choices. The content is overseen by academic staff from the OVG; it is also a responsive resource, updating content and answering questions from the visitors to the website.

The first version of the website did well in reaching a  wide audience, but was not easy to use on devices  other than PCs. Recognising the increasing  numbers of people accessing web-based  information on their phones, the OVG re-launched  the website in July 2016 on a new platform that  works well on all devices.

 The judges commended the team for demonstrating  all the aspects essential to a successful project that seeks to engage the public with research. They had:

  • thought carefully about whom they wanted to engage and why
  • utilised the appropriate format to reach their audience and achieve their objectives
  • demonstrated clear evidence of impact, with data showing a significant reach.

Furthermore, they are committed to the continual improvement of the website.