Is it risky to get vaccinated? Or is it foolish to do so? Is it true that vaccines can cause autism? These and other questions, so present in the social debate on vaccination, will be the starting point of the VacunAcció project. This new educational proposal of the EscoLab programme, promoted by the Barcelona City Council, is launched thanks to the involvement of IDIBELL researchers and the Virolai school. With the ultimate goal of creating an awareness campaign, students and researchers will work together to immunize the population against disinformation. The project is particularly appropriate for these days of COVID-19 pandemic, when anti-vaccination and denial movements have increased.
The activity consists of project-based learning and aims, ultimately, to enhance the critical thinking of the students. They will acquire tools to differentiate alarmist, conspiracy or ‘alternative’ messages (founded on not-proven ideas) from facts and evidence on the efficacy of vaccines. The project intends to develop citizens’ own judgment, that would allow them to identify and refute messages without scientific foundation.
VacunAcció is structured around activities based on reflection and discovery. Students will work independently but also will debate with expert groups. They will design a study to analyse whether their immediate environment has a negative perception of vaccines and their effects. Participants will acquire tools to search for reliable information. Finally, they will elaborate a clear and defined final product with a direct impact on the society to which they belong: an awareness campaign against vaccination movements or in favour of vaccines.
A large team of researchers from the Infections and Cancer Research Group of the Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) and the Catalan Institute of Oncology (ICO), coordinated by Dr. Marisa Mena, has been involved in the project. They will teach and work with students from the 4th year of ESO and teachers from the Virolai School in Barcelona. The Communication Unit of IDIBELL and the EscoLab team are responsible for promoting and evaluating the first edition of this project, which is also a pilot test.
The kick-off of VacunAcció will take place tomorrow, April 23th, with an introductory session on vaccines, herd immunity and examples of global vaccination campaigns. Students and researchers will work together until the end of this school year.
The Bellvitge Biomedical Research Institute (IDIBELL) is a biomedical research center created in 2004. It is participated by the Bellvitge University Hospital and the Viladecans Hospital of the Catalan Institute of Health, the Catalan Institute of Oncology, the University of Barcelona and the City Council of L’Hospitalet de Llobregat.
IDIBELL is a member of the Campus of International Excellence of the University of Barcelona HUBc and is part of the CERCA institution of the Generalitat de Catalunya. In 2009 it became one of the first five Spanish research centers accredited as a health research institute by the Carlos III Health Institute. In addition, it is part of the “HR Excellence in Research” program of the European Union and is a member of EATRIS and REGIC. Since 2018, IDIBELL has been an Accredited Center of the AECC Scientific Foundation (FCAECC).