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Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine

An Instructional Unit for Middle and High School

Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine

The US is in the midst of an unprecedented global health crisis. In 2020, the search for a safe and effective vaccine for Covid-19 became a worldwide scientific endeavour due to the widespread impact that the virus has had on lives around the world. Now that a Covid-19 vaccine has been found, public understanding about how a vaccine would work is crucial in the battle against misinformation and ‘vaccine hesitancy’.

At the beginning of 2021, as the national vaccination program starts in earnest, vaccination has never before been as politicized or questioned as much as it is, currently. People are grappling with the concern that a COVID-19 vaccine might not be held to the scientific rigor of historical vaccination development and vetting processes. Students are also having conversations with their peers and their families about the ongoing roll-out of the vaccines.

This unit therefore looks at how scientific consensus interacts with public rhetoric about Covid-19 vaccines and equips students with the tools to combat misinformation themselves.

Based on this context, we have developed an instructional unit, supported with appropriate resources. By the end of the unit, students will be able to:

  • Understand how vaccines work in triggering an immune response
  • Understand causes of vaccine hesitancy, the concept of herd immunity and its importance in relation to tackling Covid-19
  • Discuss the ethical considerations about a national vaccination program for Covid-19
  • Apply critical thinking to analyzing sources of data and reporting around vaccination programs

This unit is part of a pilot of free educational resources (‘Junior E-briefings’) that the Academy is running for schools. We encourage educators who wish to use these resources to adapt and modify the resources to their particular needs and the needs of their students.

You can access the resources using the links on the right but please also complete the short ‘baseline survey’ before using the resources. This feedback will be useful for improving our resources.

If you have any questions, do send an email to:

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