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Expert panel to combat vaccine hesitancy in B.C. through free online event

Expert panellists can answer questions concerning vaccine hesitancy, the length of the pandemic, and more.
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The University of British Columbia will host an expert panel of coronavirus researchers to help combat vaccine hesitancy in B.C. communities on Sept. 18.

The University of British Columbia (UBC) will host an expert panel featuring coronavirus researchers to help combat vaccine hesitancy in B.C. communities. 

Since the BC Vaccine Card was first announced, numerous British Columbians have rolled up their sleeves — but experts say the rate of vaccination isn't increasing quickly enough.

UBC's Dr. Sarah Otto, who is also the Canada Research Chair in Theoretical and Experimental Evolution, told Vancouver Is Awesome in an interview on Sept.15 that the "vast majority" of people who were unvaccinated prior to the announcement still haven't registered or visited a drop-in clinic. 

"In each week since the announcement, only just over [5 per cent] of those eligible people remaining to be vaccinated have done so," she explains. "At this rate, we’ll be waiting for about two months before half of the remaining people get vaccinated."

Now, the UBC Vaccine Literacy Club hopes to help overcome vaccine hesitancy in B.C. communities by providing the public with accurate information and explaining ongoing research. 

The webinar, Vaccines 101: The Role of Vaccines in the COVID-19 Pandemic, takes place this Saturday on Sept. 18 at 1 p.m. The online event is free. 

The panel will feature four prominent Canadian researchers at CoVaRR-Net, or Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network, who are at the forefront of leading our understanding of the public health response and virus variants. They will be able to answer questions concerning topics such as vaccine hesitancy, how long the pandemic will continue and if there might be another pandemic in the future. 

"If anyone is still unvaccinated, they may find it easier to directly ask about their concerns, answered in real-time by experts, in an online and anonymous setting," said the organizer in a release.  

"Additionally, attendees might find it valuable to understand the complexity and scope of vaccine hesitancy through this panel. Attending this event and asking questions can better equip people to have these conversations, to approach individuals who may be hesitant, and to share this accurate information with friends and family."

Here are the researchers who will be answering questions in the free event. 

Pillar 1: Dr. Jenn Gommerman (Immunology & Vaccine Protection)

Pillar 3: Dr. Anne-Claude Gingras (Functional Genomics & Structure-Function of VOCs)

Pillar 6: Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine (Public Health, Health Systems and Social Policy Impacts)

Pillar 7: Dr. Kimberly R. Huyser (Indigenous Engagement, Development, and Research)

More details about the panellists can be viewed with CoVaRR-NeT online.