MacEwan University is one of four post-secondaries across the province who are teaming up to promote vaccination among their students with a program campaign called VacciNATION.
"Vaccines are a critical tool in suppressing exposure to and transmission of COVID-19 along with physical distancing, avoiding crowds and practicing hygiene," says Dr. Elizabeth Burgess-Pinto, assistant professor in the Faculty of Nursing and chair of International Health Research.
The VacciNATION campaign targets youth from diverse communities across the province, taking a peer-to-peer approach to sharing information, dispelling myths and promoting immunization. In addition to encouraging inoculation, the campaign challenges students to become ambassadors and create materials they believe will resonate with their peers. Chosen materials shared on social media will fetch cash prizes for the participating students.
Dr. Burgess-Pinto explains that as the pandemic evolves, more COVID-19 cases are being reported in younger adults, and the vaccination rates in people aged 18 to 40 years are low, not just in Alberta, but in Canada and in other countries.
Along with representatives from the University of Lethbridge and NorQuest College, Dr. Burgess-Pinto was invited by Dr. Cecilia Bukutu, director of the Department of Public Health at Concordia University of Edmonton, to collaborate on a proposal submission to the Vaccine Community Innovation Challenge invitation by the Public Health Agency of Canada. Their proposal led to the development of VacciNATION.
Though VacciNATION is a chance to get engaged on social media and win prizes, it is also an opportunity to be part of an important movement during a challenging time.
"We are hoping that students will not only talk with each other about COVID-19 and vaccines but that they will also take these discussions home to family and friends who might be vaccine hesitant," says Dr. Burgess-Pinto.
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