Cornell immunology experts Avery August and Cynthia Leifer discuss COVID-19 vaccine safety and how different vaccines work.

Virtual panel will explain science behind COVID-19 vaccines

In an effort to demystify concerns and curiosities surrounding COVID-19 vaccines, Cornell will host a virtual Q&A and panel discussion, “The Science behind COVID-19 Vaccines: A Conversation with Cornell’s Immunology Experts,” Monday April 12 from 4 to 5 p.m.

The Zoom event is open to all faculty, staff, students and parents, as well as the Ithaca community. Attendees must register and will have the opportunity to submit questions about the COVID-19 vaccines before and during the event.

Panelists include:

  • Avery August, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at the College of Veterinary Medicine, Howard Hughes Medical Institute professor and vice provost for academic affairs;
  • Deborah Fowell, professor and chair of the Department of Microbiology and Immunology;
  • Gary Koretzky, vice provost for academic integration, professor in the Department of Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, and adjunct professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology; and
  • Cynthia Leifer, professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.

“The discussion will give members of the community and beyond a chance to hear from a diverse panel of experts, who are all Cornell immunologists and who have followed the development of the vaccine,” August said.

Attendees will have a chance to ask and get answers to common questions on vaccine-related topics, such as: how COVID-19 vaccines were developed and their safety and effectiveness; the differences between the vaccines currently approved for use; their efficacy against variants; and understanding herd immunity; vaccine hesitancy; concerns about side effects and long-term effects; and gender-related issues, such as whether the vaccine is safe for pregnant women. 

“The vaccine rollout is really ramping up,” August said, ”with close to 19% of the country now fully vaccinated (and 32% receiving at least one dose), and we hope to address how that intersects with concerns that people may have.”

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Abby Butler