Sandra Quinn speaking to group of students
August 6, 2018

Sandra Crouse Quinn, PhD (Professor and Chair, Family Science and Senior Associate Director, Maryland Center for Health Equity) co-taught the intensive weeklong course, Selected Topics in Vaccinology, at Tel Aviv University on July 8-13, 2018. Quinn and eight other instructors, including Quinn’s vaccine team colleague Vicki Freimuth, PhD (University of Georgia), covered key concepts in vaccinology, including the history of vaccines, current research, a session focusing specifically on the flu vaccine and efforts towards universal flu vaccine, and factors associated with vaccine hesitancy and vaccine acceptance in various populations.

Quinn and Freimuth led four of the sessions, delving into topics such as vaccine hesitancy, risk perception, trust, and communication and public acceptance during pandemics and other emergencies. Of note, they led a tabletop exercise on communication with the public about vaccine uptake in a hypothetical pandemic. They called on students to act as subject matter experts preparing a press release at different stages of the pandemic. Students created statements for the public on topics including why there was no vaccine available during beginning stages of the pandemic, when an experimental vaccine was ready, when the vaccine was ready for mass distribution, and after there were three serious adverse reactions to the approved vaccine. Scholars then delivered their statements to the rest of the class and received feedback. “This activity was very well-received by the students,” stated Quinn. “It got them away from lectures, and allowed them to practice their newly learned skills on how to communicate with the public when there aren’t necessarily any clear answers yet.” She continued, “Delivering information to the public in these situations is fraught with difficulty, because people are demanding answers that may not exist yet.”

Students participating came primarily from Israel, East Jerusalem, the Palestinian Authority, but there was also a number of international scholars. On her session on Vaccine Hesitancy and Confidence: Contemporary Issues in Diverse Populations in the US, Israel and Beyond, Quinn remarked, “it was illuminating for the students, and for us, to talk about research with minority populations in Israel and the US, and discuss what is might mean for minority or vulnerable populations in their areas.”

The course was offered by Tel Aviv University School of Public Health’s Summer Institute of Advanced Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine.

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Sandra C. Quinn