The Role of the Media and Communications in Building Public Confidence in the
COVID-19 Vaccine

Thursday, June 24, 2021(9:00 a.m. ET )
Hosted by CORE Group

Episode 1 of the Vaccine Confidence Live Series: Protecting Communities by Transforming Vaccine Hesitancy to Confidence

After the rapid development of the COVID-19 vaccines and subsequent rollout, there has been an infodemic of misinformation circulating about COVID-19 vaccine safety and efficacy, reducing public trust in getting vaccinated. The media and other communications companies play a critical role in providing vital health information to global audiences.

Panelists for this episode discussed their organizations’ strategies for increasing COVID-19 vaccine confidence and combatting misinformation through mass media channels.


Lisa M. Hilmi | Executive Director, CORE Group
Opening Remarks

Lisa Hilmi has over 30 years of global health experience in over 20+ countries, employing both human rights and community-based participatory approaches to addressing health disparities for women, children and communities. As a nurse, researcher, and public health expert, Lisa has worked at multiple levels of global health, in policy, research, emergency relief and response, development, workforce development, health systems strengthening; from local to global levels. She has worked in development settings, led response to HIV/AIDS/STIs/GBV in refugee and conflict settings, and developed policy for outbreaks, disasters, and epidemics in multiple countries. She sits on the WHO PMNCH Board, the Steering Committee of the Child Health Task Force, the Board of Directors at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Foundation, as well as other review committees.

Ben Bellows | Co-Founder of Nivi, Inc.

Dr. Ben Bellows is co-founder and Chief Business Officer at Nivi, a consumer-facing digital health company empowering individuals with actionable information. Nivi currently operates in India, Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria, where non-profits, commercial ventures, and public agencies use Nivi’s platform to optimize engagement with their key audiences. Ben previously served as a principal investigator at the Population Council, leading studies on strategic purchasing of health services. His lifelong work covers information technologies, human rights, and reproductive health. Ben has published more than 50 peer reviewed manuscripts and holds a PhD in epidemiology from the University of California, Berkeley.

Ombeva Malande, MD | Director of the East Africa Centre for Vaccines and Immunization (ECAVI)

Dr. Ombeva Malande, MD is a vaccinologist and Senior Consultant in paediatric infectious diseases. He is a certified Fellow of the College of Paediatricians of South Africa (infectious diseases subspecialty). He holds a subspecialty Master’s degree with distinction in paediatric infectious diseases and vaccinology from the University of Cape Town, South Africa. His PhD in vaccinology research focused on vaccine hesitancy in Africa. He is a Research Associate at the Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, South Africa. He holds a Masters of Medicine (MMed) degree in paediatrics and child health from Makerere University, and a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBChB) degree from Moi University. He is a Senior Consultant and Lecturer at Egerton University, and an Honorary Lecturer at Makerere University. A convener of the widely acclaimed ECAVI vaccinology course for health professionals and ECAVI Resource Mobilization Courses, hosted by ECAVI Vaccine Academy, he is the Director of East Africa Centre for Vaccines and Immunization (ECAVI)–a vaccines systems support, research, advocacy, and training program in Eastern Africa. He is a weekly columnist and advocate on child health with the Standard Media Group in Kenya.

Marie Bohner | Global Head of Partnerships, First Draft

Marie Bohner coordinated First Draft’s first CrossCheck project around the presidential election in France in 2017 and several other election projects since then. She presented First Draft’s findings on journalists and audiences at the Council of Europe, UNDP Europe and Central Asia, UNICEF, and for several media organizations around the world. She is working toward the launch of the CrossCheck platform, which will support a global network of publishers and experts to tackle online information disorder. Marie has previously worked as a journalist and researcher, but also managed artistic and cultural events and human rights and advocacy related projects in India, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, and Senegal. These range from festivals and conferences to training courses and leadership seminars with said events having been conducted on an intercultural local and international basis.

Kaleem Khan | Nigeria Country Director, BBC Media Action

Kaleem Khan is the Nigeria Country Director for BBC Media Action, the international development charity of the BBC. During the last 5 years with BBC Media Action, Kaleem has worked on public health behavioral change communication projects that include increasing awareness of routine immunization (specifically polio) in Afghanistan and Nigeria, malaria prevention and mitigation in Sierra Leone, and a mass media communication effort in Nigeria on COVID-19 prevention and mitigation.

Webinar Materials

  • Play Recording
  • Resources from First Draft
    • First Draft’s latest research report, launched June 23, 2021, on foreign anti-vaccine disinformation circulating in Western Africa
    • First Draft vaccine insights hub, updated on a regular basis
    • Vaccine Insights Flexible Learning Course in 9 languages (Spring 2021)
    • First Draft research report “Under the surface: Covid-19 vaccine narratives, misinformation and data deficits on social media”, November 2020
    • A quick PDF guide to responsible vaccine reporting
    • Covering Coronavirus, a training course for journalists in 7 languages (2020)
    • First Draft vaccine case study: Understanding the impact of polio vaccine disinformation in Pakistan (February 2020)