I'm Allyson Gallant, and I'm in my third year as a doctoral student in the PhD in Health program at Dalhousie University, under the co-supervision of Dr. Janet Curran and Dr. Audrey Steenbeek. I began working in the STIC lab in 2015 as a research coordinator and have been involved in a range of projects in various roles since then. My PhD research aims to identify and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on school-based immunization programs across the Maritimes.
In April 2023, I had the opportunity to present the preliminary findings from the first phase of my PhD work at the Canadian Immunization Conference (CIC) in Ottawa. This first phase involved conducting an environmental scan of school-based immunization programs in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island since 2018. The scan allowed us to describe how programs were delivered prior to the pandemic, changes in service delivery during school closures from 2019 to 2021, catch-up programming for students, and whether programs have undergone any updates during the 2022-2023 school year. Another project I worked on with Audrey as a research assistant was also presented at the CIC, which examined how Nova Scotia responded to COVID-19 public health measures and vaccine uptake. You can learn more about that project here.
The CIC is regularly attended by trainees, researchers, healthcare providers, and policymakers from across the country. Attending and presenting at the conference provided a great opportunity to directly communicate my research to a wide range of audiences and to help develop my research and presentation skills. Starting my PhD in September 2020 really limited the opportunities to meet people in person, so attending the CIC was an exciting chance to interact with other trainees and researchers and learn about the innovative work being done to advance vaccine research in Canada.
Stay tuned for more updates on my PhD research in the next few months!