Bethnal Green teacher jabs at 'conspiracy' theory that stops pupils getting Covid vaccine
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A nationwide programme for children and their families to make better decisions about vaccinations has been launched by a schoolteacher in Bethnal Green who was shocked to learn about “conspiracy theories" in the classroom causing a fall in routine childhood vaccinations.
Immunisations have fallen every year for almost a decade, Morpeth Secondary schoolteacher Ed Stubbs discovered.
He has created simple teaching aids being published by the Stephen Hawking science education foundation focussing on the Covid vaccine and tackling head on the conspiracy theories with some communities refusing to get the jab.
“I have noticed pupils getting increasingly fearful of inoculations,” he said. “Some refuse their school vaccinations.
"I hear incorrect and ‘conspiracy’ information shared in my classroom and fear that real and fictional concerns increase hesitancy about getting vaccinated.”
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His worries led him to create a set of resources for schools with simple material to understand vaccinations, which is being launched up and down the country by the Hawking Foundation with Queen Mary University and the London School of Tropical Medicine & Hygiene.
“Young people fear critical judgement over their doubts,” Ed added. “The debate about vaccination choices can make them hesitant about voicing their concerns and seeking help in debunking false information.”
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What has brought the issue to a head is many families in black and ethnic communities refusing Covid jabs when invited, according to Tower Hamlets Council's findings. This led to mobile clinics being sent out like the Saturday pop-up at the East London Mosque last month to get as many people as possible vaccinated.
The Hawking Foundation joined Morpeth School, Queen Mary’s research institution and the School of Tropical Medicines to challenge "conspiracy" theories.
Prof Heidi Larson from the School of Tropical Medicines said: "Teachers are ideally placed to combat the falling rates of vaccination. This programme makes the information accessible to people of all ages and all communities.”
The learning materials can be downloaded from the Hawking Foundation website. Professor Hawking, whose life was affected by Motor Neurone disease, promoted the role vaccinations have played in eradicating disease and set up his foundation in 2015 for public engagement in science.