NYMC and TCUS host 14th COVID-19 Symposium
NYMC and TCUS presented the latest on the pandemic’s effect on education and the latest on vaccination
Vaccines and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education were the focal points of the 14th edition of the COVID-19 Symposium series, presented by New York Medical College (NYMC) and Touro College and University System (TCUS) on August 26. Hosted by Edward C. Halperin, M.D., M.A., chancellor and chief executive officer of NYMC and provost for biomedical affairs at TCUS, the symposium took a closer look at how the pandemic changed medical education, how early childhood educators adjusted to virtual learning, how to move forward with reintroducing students in the classroom, as well as the latest on vaccine protection and vaccine safety in pregnancy.
The COVID-19 pandemic’s effect on education has been a prominent talking point for the past year. Wolfgang G. Gilliam, D.O., FAAPMR, dean of Touro University Nevada College of Osteopathic Medicine, presented “What Did the Pandemic Teach Us About How to Deliver Medical Education?” highlighting how he navigated the rapidly changing environment of virtual learning and the year that followed. Dr. Gilliam highlighted the importance of flexibility and transparency from school administration and faculty to properly facilitate unexpected situations. “It takes a village to raise a child. I can say it takes many communities to educate a physician,” Dr. Gilliam said.
On the topic of education, Susan Shapiro, Ph.D., assistant professor of early childhood special education at Touro College Graduate School of Education, presented data showing how children coming from a lower socioeconomic background were prone to lack of participation and attendance in virtual classes and how the pandemic had a negative effect on the mental health of children in general.
The symposium gave updates on the COVID-19 vaccines. Marisa A. Montecalvo, M.D., director of health services and professor of medicine, presented “Vaccine protection for SARS-CoV-2, what can we expect?” breaking down the process of how vaccines go from research stages to trials, then eventually approved. Dr. Montecalvo also talked about the emerging need for vaccine booster shots in immunocompromised individuals and the rapidly evolving research behind the emerging virus variants.
The much-discussed topic of the vaccine’s effect on women who are pregnant, lactating or who want to get pregnant, was addressed in a presentation by Karen M. Murray, M.D. ’99, associate dean of admissions for the NYMC School of Medicine (SOM) and assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Murray referred to research showing that although pregnant women were not part of the initial vaccine clinical trials, early indications are that the vaccine has not caused adverse effects in women’s fertility, childbirth or breastfeeding. Dr. Murray presented the latest recommendations for the vaccine for women who are planning on getting pregnant, as pregnant women were found to be more susceptible to serious illness caused by COVID-19. “A vaccine may protect you from severe illness, which could help both you and your fetus,” Dr. Murray said in her presentation.
The symposium concluded with an in-depth question and answer session hosted by Alan Kadish, M.D., president of NYMC and TCUS, covering questions on additional vaccine doses, long-term effects of virtual learning and the importance of sustaining precautionary exposure countermeasures.