We are pleased to announce that ACT NOW has received funding through the Jackman Humanities Instititutes for a Working Group on the topic of immunization . The criteria for the JHI funding is that the working group be transdisciplinary and involve partners from different institutions.
Immunization is one of the great successes of modern medicine, saving millions of lives every year. Its success is built through the activities of dedicated scientists, clinicians, public health workers, and policy makers working in different disciplines and spanning a range of diverse organizations. Yet the success of immunization programs in Canada and beyond relies not only on the activities of scientists, policy makers, and clinicians, but also on the assumed confidence and voluntary participation of the public. Decades of accumulated scientific evidence support its safety and effectiveness, and yet surveys have shown that the Canadian public is not confident in the scientific basis of immunization, a perplexing finding with growing traction throughout the developed world. This latter phenomenon, which describes a public less convinced of the role of vaccines, or the perception that vaccines are becoming less safe, has been termed “Vaccine Hesitancy” by the World Health Organization (WHO), and is an emerging domain in health research. In spite of the urgent threat to public health posed by vaccine hesitancy (look no further than Toronto’s 2015 measles outbreak), it remains unclear which interventions might be effective to address vaccine hesitancy.
The aim of our Working Group, “The Art and Science of Immunization,” is to foster rich interdisciplinary collaboration between an international roster of students (graduate and undergraduate), postdoctoral fellows, and scholars, with the aim of generating new thought and action on the major challenges facing immunization today, namely: the enhancement of communication about immunization and concrete, humanistically-inspired solutions to the urgent issue of vaccine hesitancy.
For more information about the JHI working Groups and the Immunization Working Group in Particular, please visit the JHI website.