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“If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”  Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY)

You don’t have to be a scientist or a public health professional to be a vaccine advocate. In fact, vaccine policy impacts every one of us. We all have a reason to keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe from vaccine-preventable diseases. In fact, it’s more important than ever that policymakers hear from the majority of people in the U.S. who do support pro-vaccine, science-based policies.

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Commonly Asked Questions About Who Can Speak with Policymakers

Lobbying is asking policymakers to take a specific action on a specific topic, i.e. “Please vote yes on H.R. 1234.”

Advocacy is speaking for or educating about an issue broadly, i.e. “Vaccines are safe and effective.” Posting pro-vaccine messages on social media, providing information on where to get a vaccine, or sharing how you and your family have been impacted by a vaccine-preventable disease are all examples of advocacy without lobbying. Most public health, science, and vaccine groups already engage in advocacy as part of their mission.

Government employees (including those at state universities) usually cannot lobby in an official capacity. However, you can still engage in pro-vaccine advocacy as a private citizen. You can share pro-vaccine messages on social media, talk to your community about the importance of vaccines, and communicate with policymakers in an educational capacity.

Make sure not to do any of this work on the clock, don’t use your work email or phone, and emphasize that you are not representing your employer.

Most public health, science, and pro-vaccine groups already engage in advocacy as part of their mission. According to the tax code, a 501(c)(3) organization may not make lobbying a “substantial part” of their activities. However, limited and occasional lobbying is allowed. You can find more information at the National Council of Nonprofits website.