I’m Nina. I just received my PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Michigan in January 2021. I’ve always been interested in science, infectious diseases, and vaccines, and I studied chemistry in college with the hopes of engineering vaccines in the lab. Unfortunately, lab life was definitely not a good fit for me.
Over the last decade, through working in industry and my graduate studies at UM, I found my passion: understanding not how to make better vaccines in the lab, but how to ensure that they are effectively implemented in populations. The key to this is understanding how and why effective vaccines may fail to reach their potential effectiveness. One of the biggest reasons is due to individuals choosing not to get vaccinated or not to vaccinate their children.
In order to solve the problem, we need to identify why people aren’t vaccinating. There are a host of potential reasons, including valid medical contraindications or allergies, but I’m really interested in those who choose not to? I am dedicating my career to understanding what personal beliefs may threaten vaccine uptake, and how individuals with these beliefs might cluster together. Are these beliefs due to misunderstanding? Misinformation? What societal structures make vaccination difficult? What financial obstacles exist to vaccinating, and how can we improve them? Most importantly, how can we change the narrative around vaccinations from the individual driven: “I don’t want to get the flu shot, I won’t get the flu” to the community perspective: “I don’t love needles, but I should get the flu shot to protect my grandma, who is at higher risk, and my young cousin, who is too young to get the vaccine. I have to play my part for those who cannot get vaccinated”?
Through this blog, I hope to cut through some of the inaccessibility of scientific research and writing, and find ways to share my research, my opinions (never without citations, mind you), and my best attempts at clarifying some of the many jargon-filled, confusing concepts which govern the way we think about our private health, and hoping to put that into more of a public health context, especially when it comes to vaccination.
Thanks for joining me, hold onto your hats!