Students from UMD’s Public Health Science Program and UMB’s School of Pharmacy came together with the USG Office of Student Services to address a widespread public health concern about vaccine hesitancy. This is a major health concern due to children becoming ill from diseases that have not been widely seen in the United States for years. The 2016 USG Civic Engagement Event “Tots, Shots, Connecting the Dots: The Truth about Childhood Vaccinations” was to inform our campus and community about vaccines from vaccine experts. The public also had a chance to ask any questions they had about vaccines.
Rewind five months before the event: seven students in a conference room with empty notebooks and a pen, brainstorming on what we can do to bring to life what vaccines are and to show the public that vaccinating is not what false science and the media says it is to be. During each meeting, everyone brought their best ideas and personal research they had done on who we can invite to be our panelists and how to make this experience memorable to those in our community. Having a group where everyone was dedicated to spread the word about vaccines and who are passionate about the health of others really built this event. We all had one mindset and that is to reach out and address vaccine hesitancy. I believe that this Civic Engagement event couldn’t have gone as well as it did without my team.
When February 18th hit my calendar, I was nervous, excited, and anxious to see all of our hard work come to life. Walking through the Multipurpose Room and seeing tables filled with pamphlets, flyers and giveaways as well as students lining up at the front door to grab a seat was surreal. Our resource fair consisted of many organizations including Students Engaged in Public Health (SEIPH), Montgomery County Department of Health and Human Services, Pfizer, Operation Immunization, the University of Maryland Health Center, Community Clinic Inc., Pediatric Pharmacy Advocacy Group (PPAG) and Montgomery County Regional Operation (APhA Academy of Student Pharmacists). The panelists, Dr. Sara Bazaco, Dr. Amy Costello and Dr. Jill Morgan, gave amazing and informational presentations and our guests had great questions about vaccines. From beginning to end, everything went as planned.
The whole experience overall was unbelievable. From the planning, to the event, to the new friendships created throughout the months was an opportunity that I will never forget. It was an event that was perfectly executed due to dedication and hard work. Thank you to all of those who joined us that day and to my awesome team that helped put this together.