Oklahoma received its first shipment of Moderna vaccines on Dec. 21. Photo provided by the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Science Museum Oklahoma receives funding award for community vaccine education

Science Museum Oklahoma was awarded $19,203 to continue a virtual community education program focused on COVID-19 and vaccine information.

The Communities for Immunity award backs dozens of educational programs around the country with funding from the CDC and the Institute of Museum and Library Services. The initiative is led by the Association of Science and Technology Centers, and the American Alliance of Museums.

Science Museum Oklahoma will use its award to bolster a program started in July 2020 that virtually streams panels of local healthcare professionals who answer questions and educate communities about COVID-19 and the vaccine.

Clint Stone, vice president of programs and collections at the museum, said the project aligns with the mission of Science Museum Oklahoma.

“As a museum, our number one goal is to reveal the wonder and relevance of science. And oftentimes at the museum, we do that through hands-on experiences,” Stone said. “With the virus, we can’t really do that. So what we need to do is help people relate and see the relevancy in a way that is very approachable.”

The museum is partnering with the Anadarko Community Library, the Jim Lucas Checotah Public Library and the Grove Public Library to stream the discussions at different locations around the state. So far, each discussion has reached between 11,700-17,400 people, and Stone said he hopes to reach more residents in rural communities.

The new funds are expected to help bolster infrastructure that can provide a wide audience reach and support collecting questions, produce quality community resources and a secure communication system for participant anonymity if desired, support organizational time to produce the discussions and ensure streaming quality. The healthcare professionals donate their time at no cost.

The next panel, scheduled for Feb. 3 at 7 p.m. and anchored by News 9’s Amanda Taylor, will feature: Blaine Bolding, chief of public health production at the Oklahoma City County Health Department; Dr. Dale Bratzler, chief COVID-19 officer at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center; Pamela Lovelace, employee health, infection control and vaccine specialist at The Physicians Hospital in Anadarko; and Dr. John Rice, a family medicine practitioner at the Payne and Rice Clinic in Checotah.

Stone said utilizing local medical expertise helps the public relate to and trust the science.

“We want them to know that these health professionals, they’re experiencing what we are experiencing as well,” Stone said. “We’re really in this together, and so let’s listen and let’s learn together.”

To submit questions for the Feb. 3 discussion panel, click this link. The panels can be viewed at partnering libraries, the museum’s website or social media, or News 9’s social media.