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Miller School’s Public Health Graduate Students Play Key Role in Uniting for Action’s New Vaccine Considerations Project

During the Fall 2020 semester, Uniting for Action virtually visited a course filled with eager public health graduate students at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The organization—founded in 2017—is facilitating the strategic and collective actions required to effectively address current and future health challenges faced in local, national, and global communities.

Now, students are involved in Uniting for Action’s new Vaccine Considerations Project, which will help gather and share information to address health concerns and considerations regarding the new COVID-19 vaccines.

“This is a great example of how our public health students are getting actively involved in the community to advance COVID-19 research and dissemination of preventive strategies,” said Dr. Eric C. Brown, Ph.D., associate professor in the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences, who teaches the department’s Disease Prevention and Health Promotion course in which the organization visited.

Jared Krupnick, the founder of Uniting for Action, spoke to students about the organization’s new Vaccine Considerations Project.

“Working with Dr. Brown to prepare my presentations for his classes has taught me so much,” said Krupnick. “What I’ve learned has crucially helped shape how the Vaccine Considerations Project is now moving forward. This has also been a great opportunity to expand COVID-19 research through student class projects, capstones, and theses around the work we’re doing. I appreciate the commitment from Dr. Brown and his students to creating a connection between the theories and the concepts in the classroom and the practical application of those principles out in the world.”

The Vaccine Considerations Project is consolidating, organizing, and amplifying collective COVID-19 vaccine health and safety concerns primarily of the medical community, epidemiologists, public health experts, and the community at large. The project’s team is. creating a repository of information that is being made available to individuals, advisory panels, national associations, medical professionals, researchers, and the media.

Students from the Miller School’s Department of Public Health Sciences are playing a key role in developing the repository.

“The students that have joined the team have really been going above and beyond to bring the vision of the project into reality, from research to content creation to outreach,” said Krupnick. “We’re all focused on creating win-win-wins for each of the students on the team, for the project, and for the public. We’re all doing a really great job of that. UM students are the ones that helped get this project off the ground and through their outreach across the country, we’ve now added team members from three other universities this past week. There’s a palpable electricity and energy right now as we can all see our efforts beginning to quickly bear fruit on a national level.”

Students from Baylor University, George Washington University, and Boston University are now also involved in the project. 

Miller School’s Vanessa Morales, a second year M.S.P.H. candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences, who is the student team leader in the Vaccine Considerations Project, is responsible for the coordinating efforts to develop the student outreach strategy that is building the workforce for the project, as well as managing consistent and coordinated outreach to students at universities across the nation.

“Throughout this past semester, Dr. Brown has capitalized on the virtual modality of classes by bringing in an exciting group of guest speakers to present on various topics to the class,” said Morales. “This is how we were connected to Uniting for Action and the Vaccine Considerations Project. This project is giving us the opportunity to engage in the very timely COVID-19 vaccine considerations. We are identifying, and amplifying concerns expressed by the medical and public health community regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.”

Their aim, Morales shared, is to ensure that these concerns be thoroughly addressed by the Florida Drug Administration (FDA) as they work to approve vaccines and make these concerns available to the public through the Information for Action System, so that individuals can use these considerations to form an informed plan of action for themselves, and family members regarding the COVID-19 vaccination. 

Miller School’s Jasmine N. Jackson, a first year M.S.P.H. candidate, has also taken the role as one of the national student network liaison and researcher for the project. As a student liaison, she has helped network with students across the country and disseminate information regarding the project—a role that is imperative in expanding the team and network of students across many disciplines and states. 

“As a part of the research team, I am also contributing to the repository of information by consolidating and organizing the collective COVID-19 vaccine health and safety concerns that have surfaced,” Jackson said. “I hope to take this experience in an interdisciplinary team, building a repository of information, and disseminating knowledge to stakeholders and communities and apply it to my future career in global health.”

“Dr. Brown seamlessly introduced Jared’s work while discussing prevention systems and system thinking,” she added. “Jared spoke about the project and immediately caught my attention. Dr. Brown made concepts come to life in a real-world application. I put what I was learning in class to the test outside of my class lecture. I believe that to reinforce knowledge taught in a class, I must be presented with real-world examples and impacts.”

Amid the ongoing pandemic and the new recent advances in vaccines, developing widespread COVID-19 immunity is a key public health strategy in eliminating the transmission of the virus. Current vaccine hesitancy poses significant challenges.

The Vaccine Considerations Project is working with its senior medical advisor, David Berger, M.D., F.A.A.P.—a board certified pediatrician with over 20 years of experience as a clinician—who has decades of experience educating people with concerns and hesitancies about vaccines through his family practice. Dr. Berger is helping direct the students on the team to collect and provide information for individuals who have health conditions and concerns that may need to be specifically addressed. For example, there may be adverse reactions from the COVID-19 vaccines that may emerge in individuals who have hyperinflammatory conditions, cancers, poor health or nutrition, and past exposure/immunity to the COVID-19 virus. 

On December 10th, Dr. Berger and the Vaccine Considerations Project team will be providing oral presentations at the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC) Meeting. The Advisory Committee will be evaluating whether to recommend that the FDA grants an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. The Vaccine Considerations Project team is suggesting ways the FDA and the Advisory Committee can increase trust and confidence by rigorously and comprehensively addressing unresolved and unaddressed concerns.

“The decisions being made right now regarding the authorization of use of COVID-19 vaccines affects tens of millions of people,” Krupnick said. “The students understand the urgent and critical roles they can play to ensure the publics health and safety, and theyre all making personal sacrifices to contribute as much as they can to the project, even in the midst of finals, and everything else they have going on in their lives. Its really inspiring to see their selfless willingness to be leaders, right now, when the stakes are so high, and we need them the most. Up until now, very few people have been aware of the crucial work theyve been doing behind the scenes, but very deservedly thats all changing now.”

Uniting for Action is urging all concerned stakeholders to collectively contribute to and share information addressing the health and safety concerns of COVID-19 vaccines through the Vaccine Considerations Project. The organization is also actively recruiting interested individuals to help with this critical project.

For more information on the project, visit

Written by Amanda Torres
Published on December 9, 2020