Covid vaccine Hackney schools
Image: courtesy Rachael Burford

Lessons aimed at tackling the Covid-19 anti-vaccine movement will be given in Hackney schools amid concerns young people have become more sceptical about the jab.

Teachers and public health chiefs in Hackney developed the classes, aimed at pupils aged seven to 18, with students.
The learning materials are set to be rolled out across the capital today by umbrella group London Councils.

Hackney’s deputy mayor and education boss Cllr Anntoinette Bramble said: “We’re doing all we can to work with our communities to reassure them about the safety of the vaccine and promote take up.

“This incredible work by teachers at Stoke Newington School builds on the research we’ve carried out with young Londoners. It aims to explain the safety of the vaccine, bring the science of it to life, and enable young people to discuss their concerns with teachers.”

It comes after research done in east London by the council found that almost a third of those aged 16 to 24 said they would not get the vaccine or were unsure about it. Just 8 per cent of respondents aged 75 plus were “unsure”.

The research also showed people who rely most heavily on social media for news and information, rather than traditional sources, are more likely to be sceptical about the jab.

Public Health England’s regional director for London professor Kevin Fenton said: “Young Londoners have the potential to be important ambassadors for vaccination.

“Making sure young people are well-informed by trusted sources is the perfect way to empower their decision-making and enable them to confidently share accurate information through their own networks.

“Young people often feel left out of important conversations, so the fact that these materials were developed with their input is brilliant.”

The project is the latest way councils have been battling misinformation about Covid.

After rumours about the jab’s side effects circulated in Newham, the council enlisted the help of “vaccine peers” who help circulate facts within the community.

The classes focus on understanding the process of developing vaccines, how they work and why they are safe and effective.
Figures show there has been a lower uptake of the jab among people from Black and ethnic minority backgrounds, and the lessons will also address this.

Head of science at Stoke Newington School Jesse Hershkowitz helped develop the classes: “While many of my pupils are highly enthusiastic about the vaccine, there are undoubtedly pupils who are more hesitant, he said.

“This can be for all sorts of reasons – some just don’t know enough about vaccines, while others may have misconceptions about them.

“Through examining the scientific principles behind vaccination and an analysis of how the Covid-19 vaccines have been developed, we’re working to raise awareness and support for London’s vaccine roll-out.”

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