Fisher faculty launching vaccine literacy program
Three professors at the Wegmans School of Pharmacy at St. John Fisher College will develop ROC Community Immunity, a program aimed at educating and counseling the community about vaccines and immunizations.
Associate professors Kelly Conn, Amy Parkhill and Ramil Sapinoro bring expertise in health literacy, public health, cultural competency, and immunology and vaccinology to the project. They will launch a yearlong initiative to tackle false and misleading information and help improve confidence in vaccines, particularly among ethnically, racially and socio-economically diverse populations.
The program will be funded by a $20,000 innovation scholarship award from the National Association of Chain Drug Stores Foundation.
Conn, Parkhill and Sapinoro will direct the creation and distribution of videos, digital content and social media-based materials that will educate individuals about the role vaccines play in protecting the community.
“The development of vaccines and immunization programs are one of the most successful life-saving public health campaigns administered, and incidents of vaccine-preventable diseases have decreased significantly over the last 50 years,” Sapinoro said. “Despite that decrease, pockets of misinformation continue to rise, leading to vaccine fear, mistrust and hesitancy. We believe that engaging communities in transparent, straightforward conversations can foster confidence in vaccines.”
Parkhill added that the program will collaborate with community pharmacies, nonprofit agencies and health care centers — including Rochester Victory Alliance, Project Homeless Connect, Mary’s Place and the Anthony Jordan Health Center — to leverage the trust and goodwill that exists between those organizations and the communities they serve.
The team aims to host four Community-Immunity Town Halls via Zoom and Facebook Live that will cover vaccine stigma, myths and misconceptions about vaccines, childhood immunizations and adult immunizations.
“We hope that these live events will help remove barriers to health literacy by providing a comfortable space for community members to ask questions and, as a result, eliminate misconceptions about immunizations,” Conn said.