Queen Mary University of London : Queen Mary researchers help to tackle vaccine hesitancy in schools

Queen Mary researchers have been working with schools to design resources to help young people better understand immunisation programmes.

Ed Stubbs is a secondary school teacher at Morpeth School in Tower Hamlets, east London, local to Queen Mary University of London. He wanted to create an educational programme after becoming concerned at a growing sense of fear among his students toward vaccinations, fuelled by misinformation and certain conspiracy theories.

He approached Daniel Pennington, Professor of Molecular Immunology at Queen Mary’s Blizard Institute, and together they worked on a series of classroom resources aimed at local students to address their questions and concerns around the COVID-19 vaccine, and to provide reliable and scientifically based information about the nature and use of vaccines in general.

Professor Daniel Pennington said: “Rather than simply repeat the message that people should have a COVID-19 vaccine, we wanted to provide young people with readily accessible, accurate information about vaccines, from which they could make their own informed decisions.”

The resources were posted online, and this attracted the interest of the Stephen Hawking Foundation. The team then developed the project further in collaboration with science writer and educator Dr Emily Grossman. The Foundation published the project online and it is now available for use globally.

An event was also held, supported by Queen Mary’s Centre for Public Engagement, which gave an opportunity for the public to hear from a panel of expert immunology researchers from the Blizard Institute and learn about how vaccines work, and to debunk myths surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

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