Student-led event to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

WRH CEO David Musyj, St. Clair College President Patti France, HDGH CEO Janice Kaffer and University of Windsor President Robert Gordon sign the memorandum of understanding for WE SPARK Health Institute, March 9, 2020. (Photo by Maureen Revait)

If you’re a young adult who’s still deciding whether to get a COVID-19 vaccine, an upcoming event promises to help you make an informed choice.

The University of Windsor and St. Clair College, in cooperation with WE-Spark Institute, will hold a virtual student-led panel discussion on vaccine hesitancy in young people, on Thursday, December 2. 

The discussion, titled “Sparking Vaccine Confidence Among Students of Windsor-Essex”, will feature speakers representing healthcare, education, and science.

A group of students, professors, and researchers from both the university and the college are handling the project, led by U of W biomedical sciences professor Dr. Dora Cavallo-Medved.

“Tackling this together with students taking the lead is a much more effective way to make an impact on the community,” said Cavallo-Medved. “Bringing all our resources together will build awareness of the health capacity we have in Windsor.”

For Loretta Sbrocca, a Masters of Education student at U of W, the project is personal.

“I lost a family member to COVID-19, so this is how I can put my skills and knowledge and education to use and prevent others from feeling that pain,” said Sbrocca. “Joining this project was my chance to protect my community and bring reliable information to the underrepresented groups.”

Ahead of the virtual discussion, a social media campaign has begun in the form of graphic representations of peer-to-peer discussion. Two of the stories have already been published on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, using the hashtag #SPARKINGvaccineCONFIDENCE.

As of Monday evening, the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit reported that 71.8 per cent of people aged 12 to 17 in Windsor-Essex have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. That percentage is down to 68.5 per cent for those between 18 and 24.

The virtual panel will meet on December 2 from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Visit its webpage on the WE-Spark Institute website to register.