CUNY SPH launches new initiative to address public concerns about COVID-19 vaccines

The City University of New York Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy (CUNY SPH) today launched CONVINCE USA, part of a global project to increase understanding of factors that influence people's willingness to accept new COVID-19 vaccines and to promote inclusive public dialogue to reduce vaccine hesitancy.

As part of the global, multi-sector CONVINCEsm (COVID-19 New Vaccine Information Communication and Engagement) initiative with the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP) at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) and Wilton Park, CONVINCE USA will work at the national, state and local level, across the public, private and NGO sectors, and will include both independent and collaborative programs to create support for COVID-19 immunization and the science behind it.

"The need for our initiative is clear, given recent survey research that has identified high levels of potential refusal of a COVID-19 vaccine both here in New York City and nationally," said Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes, Dean of CUNY SPH. "CONVINCE USA will be directed at CUNY SPH by its co-founder, Professor Scott Ratzan."

Dr. Ratzan, Distinguished Lecturer at CUNY SPH and Editor of the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, explained, "We have already been fortunate to obtain support from The Commonwealth Fund, CDC Foundation, and the Community Health Acceleration Partnership to undertake new research at CUNY SPH that will lead to the development of guidance to help public health workers and the private sector implement successful COVID-19 immunization campaigns, as approved vaccines become available in the coming months."

An American Project within a Global Initiative

The CONVINCE USA project grew out of a series of global dialogues over the course of the pandemic with CUNY SPH, the VCP, and Wilton Park, an agency of the UK Foreign, Commonwealth, and Development Office.

We look forward to using the insights on vaccine hesitancy that VCP has gathered globally over the last decade to help CONVINCE USA develop effective new communication and engagement strategies."

Heidi Larson, Professor and Director of the Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP)

The Wilton Park dialogues that provided the initial impetus for the CONVINCE initiative will continue to yield fresh insights and bring in new voices and ideas going forward.

"We look forward to continuing to work with CUNY SPH and VCP to bring together larger, more diverse voices to understand the evolving dimensions of COVID-19 vaccine communication challenges," said Nancy Lee, Programme Director for Global Health and Health Policy at Wilton Park. "Our goal is to find collaborative solutions that will help us all to break free of the pandemic and restore people's lives and livelihoods."

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