Ryerson University hosted its first ever science café at Oakham House on Thursday to shine light on the misconceptions, science and business of vaccines.
The “SciCafé” event, planned by the office of science outreach and enrichment, held a three-person panel to discuss the vaccine industry. The SciCafé aims to encourage engagement with science and make people aware about issues in the field.
Emily Agard, the coordinator of the office, planned the event and participated in the panel. The PhD recipient in immunology took part to break down the “science behind how the vaccine works.”
“The Science Café has been a dream of mine for a while,” she says.
The panel also consisted of Lynda McCarthy, a Ryerson professor in environmental biology and ecotoxicology and Alison Guy, a consultant for pharmaceutical company Parexel.
McCarthy explained at the event that the misconceptions around vaccines come from poor media coverage surrounding science research.
“We have the most evidence-based information on the internet that we’ve ever had, but we must convince people to not go to the sensationalized sites if it’s a serious topic,” McCarthy said to the audience.
The panelists also discussed the importance of getting a vaccine.
“We get vaccinated for another reason than just protecting ourselves, we get vaccinated to protect the people around us,” Guys says. “You’re protecting the elderly, you’re protecting the newborn, you’re protecting people who actually can’t the vaccine because they’re allergic or not old enough.”
Agazit Hadera, a third-year biology major at Ryerson, said that she considers herself “pro-vaccine” and thought the event was eye-opening.
“Vaccinations are a big issue right now…I think if there were more students (in attendance) who weren’t in science, it would have been beneficial to have this discussion with them,” Hadera says. “They could learn a lot.”
Maria Siassina was the arts and life editor at the Ryersonian in the fall of 2013. She graduated from Ryerson's journalism program in the spring of 2014. She has also interned at the National Post in the arts and life section, contributing to the Afterword section with Mark Medley. Her past experiences include interning and writing for Quill & Quire, Canadian Press, This Magazine, and Tightrope Books. She is fluent in Russian and hopes to use this skill in her future as a writer.