U of T has launched the Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health to address vaccine hesitancy. According to the World Health Organization, vaccine hesitancy is one of the top ten threats facing public health in 2019, and has led to outbreaks of diseases that were previously eliminated, such as measles.
The Director of the centre, Dr. Natasha Crowcroft wrote, “The Centre will be (as per our vision) catalyzing cutting-edge research and education that maximizes the health benefits of immunization for everyone.”
According to Crowcroft in an interview with U of T News, “Unlike other provinces, Ontario has had no centre of excellence to work in this space. We are filling this gap with some of the best minds in the country.”
Crowcroft also highlighted the need for resources to attract and retain the researchers working on vaccine prevention. She mentioned that “there are great people working in Canada, but Ontario has lagged behind in not having a resource like this Centre before. And we always need new people to bring new energy and new ideas.”
To help reach its goal, Crowcroft hopes for U of T’s new centre to be an “internationally-recognized centre of excellence in vaccine preventable disease and immunization research and education.” She also lays out goals for cross-disciplinary work and increasing access to education on vaccine preventable diseases and immunization.
In an email to The Varsity, Crowcroft wrote, “A strong unified and harmonious voice speaking up for vaccines and more broadly for science is really important. Institutions and students from across Canada need to be on the same side. The battle against vaccine skeptics is never going to end.”