Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center to host vaccine hesitancy-centered virtual lecture


Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — Officials with the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center’s (TTUHSC) Office of Global Health will host a virtual lecture surrounding vaccine hesitancy as well as science denialism in social media, martial arts and fitness subcultures at 12 p.m. Wednesday.

According to a news release, speakers for the event will include Stephan Kesting, a Brazilian jiujitsu expert, first responder, small business owner and social media cultural instigator; and Jeff Dennis, an assistant professor of public health for the TTUHSC Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences.

Christopher O’Dell, the assistant director for the TTUHSC Office of Global Health, said in the release that the lecture series provides opportunities to explore a variety of topics related to global health through the communities served by TTUHSC. This lecture will include issues surrounding the pandemic, including science skepticism and vaccine hesitancy.

“The denial of expert consensus seems to have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” O’Dell said in the release. “Many of the benefits and luxuries we enjoy as a society rely on adherence to evidence-based research and the guidance of experts across many fields, particularly in public and global health. If we as individuals and as a society dismiss the scientific process, we increase our risk for disease, death and poor quality of life.”

According to the release, Kesting is a 22-year first responder and a well-known martial artist who has used his social media influence “to combat misinformation and disinformation about COVID-
19, vaccination and the scientific method.”

“Our purpose for inviting Mr. Kesting to the lecture series is to highlight his story and allow attendees to
interact with someone who has been both professionally and personally impacted by the spread of
misinformation and disinformation across social media and within the martial arts and fitness subcultures
during the COVID-19 pandemic,” O’Dell said in the release.

Dennis, as a TTUHSC faculty member, Dennis’ research mainly explores social determinants of health, intersecting mental health and criminal justice. Through his participation in the lecture, the release states that Dennis will serve as a public health expert.

“Dr. Dennis can address any questions or concerns our audience might have regarding the professional
practice of the scientific method and/or the interaction between COVID-19 and social determinants of health
such as socioeconomic status, education, environment, social support networks, access to health care and
others,” he said in the release.

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