University of New Hampshire faculty members in the fields of microbiology, immunology and public health have developed a free online training to help participants gain an understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and become better consumers of health information.

“COVID-19 is a very complicated subject matter for the average person and even some healthcare personnel. It is not often explained at a level where people get the background information they need to make the best decisions about their health,” said Timothy Montminy, senior lecturer in molecular, cellular and biomedical sciences and one of the faculty experts who developed the series. “Our goal with this nine-session webinar was to provide an informative and user friendly format that explores everything from the basic concepts of a virus to COVID-19 specifically, as well as clearly explaining what vaccines are and how they work.”

The webinar series, coordinated through UNH’s Office of Outreach and Engagement, is divided into nine sessions of 10 minutes or less. Each session addresses a central question relevant to the pandemic, beginning with core concepts in virology, immunology and public health, and concludes by dispelling a myth or misunderstanding regarding COVID-19. Participants who complete all nine sessions will receive a certificate and digital badge but the series is designed for anyone to pick and choose what they want to learn about at any given time.

Topics explore what a virus is, what COVID-19 is, how your immune system fights infection, how disease is transmitted, what a vaccine is, what herd immunity is, how vaccines are developed and approved, how the COVID-19 vaccines work, how pandemics are studied and controlled, and what to expect if you contract COVID-19.

“The university is pleased to be able to offer this free resource for the residents of New Hampshire and beyond,” said Anthony S. Davis, dean of the College of Life Sciences and Agriculture. “Our faculty have been teaching on these general topics since long before COVID-19 and sharing their expertise to give people the facts needed to make their own best healthcare decisions was a natural next step.”

The COVID-19 Awareness Training Webinar Series is one of many micro-credentials the university offers to provide accessible pathways for skill attainment and recognition to better serve the ever-evolving New Hampshire economy. A digital badge is one example of a micro-credential.

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