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Texas A&M program receives grant funding to boost vaccination rates through education

Published: Oct. 20, 2021 at 3:32 AM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - A Texas A&M program just received $50,000 in grant funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to expand a project to help improve vaccination rates in rural and medically underserved parts of Texas.

The project is led by the Texas A&M Partnership for Environmental Education & Rural Health, known as PEER. Those involved, which includes a team from a wide range of disciplines across the university, will produce short instructional videos and other educational materials to combat vaccine hesitancy by better explaining the science behind vaccines.

These materials will be aimed at middle and high schoolers and available to teachers across the country, not just Texas.

”We have a general sense that people have really no idea how vaccines work. Can we, in fact, give them a very simple but scientifically accurate view of how vaccines work, essentially trying to reassure people that there is a lot of science behind vaccines,” Texas A&M distinguished professor in the Department of Veterinary Pathobiology Ian Tizard said. “The bottom line is we’re trying to deliver the most current information from the university, especially to rural schools - schools that don’t have the resources to do these things themselves.”

This program has already existed for some time, as PEER has provided similar educational tools on a number of other topics related to health and the environment. The grant funding allows them to tackle the topic of vaccine hesitancy and add it to their repertoire.

These materials will also cover the microbial world and basic immunology, which is the portion of the project Tizard is leading. They will also be produced in both English and Spanish to reach as many students as possible.

“It’s gone from the interview format, question and answer format, all the way through to sort of formal lectures,” Tizard said. “We want to try and deliver it in a way that students can relate to it and understand just how ubiquitous microbes are, what the difference is between bacteria and viruses, and how our body defends itself.”

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