Promoting Vaccine Confidence in Neurodivergent Communities: Lessons Learned from Stakeholder Engagement and Social Media Outreach

Promoting Vaccine Confidence in Neurodivergent Communities: Lessons Learned from Stakeholder Engagement and Social Media Outreach


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Archived Recording
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Thursday, August 26, 2021
2:00 p.m. ET - 3:00 p.m. ET
Location: Zoom Meeting

Webinar Description

This webinar will present lessons learned from a project that seeks to promote vaccine confidence in the disability community during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this student-driven project, supported by an AUCD-CDC Dissemination Innovation Mini-grant, students and trainees from UCLA and LA COVID volunteers conducted a stakeholder engagement strategy to inform communication and dissemination efforts to promote vaccine confidence. Since May 2021, students have been interviewing individuals with disabilities and their families, direct service providers, and public health experts to understand strategies for promoting COVID-19 vaccine uptake and access and overall health and well-being for the disability community. They have subsequently advanced a social media strategy-under guidance from Hood Medicine- to disseminate their findings and engage the community. This webinar will focus on insights gleaned from these efforts.
Lessons Learned:

  • Self-advocates and family members
  • Public health professionals
  • Direct service professionals
  • Using social media to disseminate public health messages

Dr. Emily Hotez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA

Dr. Emily Hotez, Ph.D. is the project lead. She is a developmental researcher and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCLA. She currently serves on the leadership team of the Autism Intervention Research Network on Physical Health (AIR-P). She has extensive experience developing and executing participatory projects with trainees/new investigators, working on interdisciplinary teams, and translating research findings for diverse audiences. During the pandemic, she has published for both research and lay audiences on the issues of disabilities, COVID-19, and vaccination accessibility and equity. As a researcher and sibling to her autistic sister, Dr. Hotez is committed to carrying out projects that adapt a neurodiversity-oriented lens towards health-promotion.


Julie Grassien
UCLA Alumni

Julie Grassian recently graduated from UCLA with a major in Psychology and minor in Public Health. She currently is the Program Coordinator for the Iris Cantor-UCLA Women's Health Education & Research Center. She will be obtaining her MPH in the fall at UC Berkeley, with an emphasis in Maternal, Child, & Adolescent Health, and is passionate about promoting health equity for this population, including neurodiverse children and their families.



Michelle Heyman
PhD Student UCR Graduate of Education

Michelle Heyman is a School Psychology Ph.D. student at the University of California, Riverside. Her primary research focuses on the female presentation of ASD symptoms as compared to males. Michelle has worked with people on the spectrum for over seven years in research, community, and clinic settings.




Nilpa Shah
UCLA Fielding School of Public Health Alumni

Dr. Nilpa Shah has a Master of Public Health (MPH) from the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Molecular and Cell Biology and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from UC Davis. Prior to coming to UCLA, Shah worked as a Project Manager at UC Davis Health for four years and studied the impacts of sociocultural and biobehavioral determinants of health on disease management and developed the structural and organization knowledge for program planning and implementation. Currently, Shah works as a project manager at UCLA Health and studies violence prevention. Her professional goal is to design, implement, and evaluate innovative community-based interventions to promote healthy lifestyles for families that lack healthcare resources. As an emerging public health leader, Shah is motivated to collaborate with other like-minded professionals to improve healthcare inequity and create synergy to promote and protect the health of people and their communities.


Sydney Huynh
University of CalUniversity of California, Los Angeles | Psychobiology B.S.

Sydney is a recent graduate from UCLA, where she majored in Psychobiology. She aims to pursue a career in medicine and public health, with an interest in oncology and pediatrics. Eager to learn about and gain experience in these fields, Sydney became involved in the organizations American Cancer Society on Campus, Pathways for Students into Health Professions, and Patient Health Advocates.




Laila Khorsani
University of California, Los Angeles I
Neuroscience B.S.

Laila is a recent graduate from UCLA, where she graduated with a major in neuroscience and a minor in public affairs. Currently, she is a Fulbright grantee at the Technical University of Munich Institute of Neuroscience, where she studies sensorimotor circuitry. She is also interested in teaching, and has spent her time at UCLA teaching neuroscience to underserved communities in Los Angeles. In the future, she aims to disseminate STEM education and medical topics to be easily understood by the general community and contribute to closing barriers to medical care.



Shevanti Kumar

Shevanti Kumar
University of California, Los Angeles I Computational and Systems Biology B.S.

Shevanti is an undergraduate student at UCLA studying Computational and Systems Biology hoping to concentrate in neurosystems. She is involved with the club All Brains which focuses on making the campus more inclusive and neurodiversity-friendly. She is highly interested in making resources more accessible and equitable to all communities.




Asal Bastani

Asal Bastani
University of California, Los Angeles I Physiology B.S. with a minor in Professional Writing

Asal is a third year student who aspires to become a physician-advocate in the future to help create more equitable healthcare in marginalized communities. She is currently involved in researching the medical examiner-coroner system in relation to keeping police officers accountable for their actions in cases of police-related fatalities. She is also a Peer Learning Facilitator for UCLA's Academic Advancement Program in which she mentors and tutors students from underrepresented backgrounds to combat systemic disparities in postsecondary education.



National Cetner on Disablity in Public Health