U21 - How can we vaccinate the world?

I, Lisa Ang from the University of Auckland School of Optometry & Vision Science, was given the opportunity to participate in an international online team challenge for pre-registration students in healthcare-related programmes.

The challenge was hosted by the Universitas 21 Health Science Group (U21 HSG) Interprofessional Education Special Interest Group.

Students from the University of Auckland and 4 other universities – the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom, the University of Hong Kong, and the University of Melbourne and Queensland in Australia – took part in this challenge.

Our task was set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE).

In a form of a 5-minute group presentation, we had 2 weeks to formulate up to 5 evidence-based recommendations to improve vaccine uptake by the general population for the next viral pandemic.

I worked alongside 6 admirable and talented team members (see Image 1 above).

I gained a different perspective on COVID-19 from working with them, since not only did they come from different healthcare degrees, but they were also from different parts of the world.

It was interesting getting to know their culture and how their countries have been dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak.

Within our group activity, we were able to combine our personal experiences with COVID-19 in our countries and hours of research to come up with strategies to promote vaccine uptake (see Image 2).

This project revealed how important multidisciplinary teamwork is and enabled us to use our different perspectives and knowledge to collaborate effectively as a group.

It was also enjoyable and inspiring to watch the other groups present their recommendations.

One of the challenges we faced as a group was working together in different time zones. It was difficult finding a time that suited everyone for our Zoom meetings, however, we were able to work around it by communicating effectively and adapting to our different schedules.

Overall, it was a valuable experience collaborating online with people from different healthcare disciplines, living on the other side of the world that I have never met before however, can now call my lifelong friends.