As COVID-19 vaccines roll out to the public in the United States, challenges in accessing vaccination and headlines about new variants have left many feeling confused and unsure about the path forward. We continue to see high hesitancy among many communities to receive a first-generation vaccine. In this context, communicating clearly, simply and with transparency is imperative to building public confidence and achieving progress against the pandemic.

Our collective ability to curtail the pandemic lies in people’s willingness to wear masks, social distance, wash their hands and to get vaccinated. The responsibility to build trust and motivate action lies not just with federal, state and local government leaders, but with the private sector to be a partner in accelerating vaccination strategies and a trusted voice to keep employees informed.

To help our clients navigate this challenging landscape, Weber Shandwick’s COVID-19 Vaccines Task Force is launching a three-part webinar series, “COVID-19: The Path Forward.”

Hosted by Weber Shandwick Chairman Jack Leslie, these one-hour conversations and a companion series of podcast episodes will explore the multi-dimensional challenges leaders face and the dynamics at play that impact business operations, reputations and communications with employees and customers.

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Below is additional information on the upcoming webinars – we hope you’ll join us:

1) Where the the Science Stands: What we know and what we need to know about vaccination and the next phase of the pandemic
February 17 at 11:00 a.m. ET

Weber Shandwick Chairman Jack Leslie will moderate a conversation with two leading public health experts who have faced the front lines of two global pandemics. Renowned epidemiologist Dr. Michael Merson, former Dean of Yale School of Public Health and Dean of Duke Global Health Institute, previously served as the as Director of the WHO Global Program on AIDS, and was responsible for mobilizing and coordinating the global response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Dr. David Ho, one of the world’s leading virologists and Director of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at Columbia University, was named TIME Magazine’s Person of the Year in 1996 for elucidating the dynamics of HIV replication in vivo and championing combination antiretroviral therapy that resulted in dramatic reductions in AIDS mortality. In 2020, Dr. Ho’s lab began investigating potential treatments and vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.

2) A Global Balancing Act: Addressing Global Access to Vaccines
Thursday, February 25 at 9 a.m. ET

As countries around the world try to secure precious vaccine doses and bring the pandemic under control, inequities in vaccination roll outs can have wide-ranging implications for people, countries and economies. This webinar will explore how the pandemic influences global relationships and how global companies can navigate a world at varying stages of vaccination and recovery.

3) Navigating the Uncharted Landscape: Questions Companies Should be Asking
Thursday, April 1 at 12 p.m. ET

This webinar will focus on considerations for corporate leaders when making decisions in this rapidly changing environment. We’ll explore the practical implications for business operations, reputation and corporate communications – including crafting effective communications strategies, prioritizing information to share with employees, and adapting plans for a diverse employee base.


About Dr. Michael Merson 

Dr. Merson, a noted epidemiologist with special expertise in pandemics, is the former dean of the Yale School of Public Health and founding director of the Duke Global Health Institute, author of the leading textbook on global health and currently the Wolfgang Joklik Professor of Global Health at Duke and director of the SingHealth Duke-National University of Singapore (NUS) Global Health Institute.


About Dr. David Ho 

Dr. David Ho is the founding Scientific Director and Chief Executive Officer of the Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center, a world-renowned biomedical research institute at Columbia University. Dr. Ho has been actively engaged in AIDS research for 20 years, and among an impressive list of seminal contributions to the field, he is perhaps most recognized for his work to elucidate the dynamics of HIV replication in vivo. These studies demonstrated for the first time the durable control of HIV replication in patients receiving combination antiretroviral therapy and was the turning point in the AIDS pandemic, transforming an automatic death sentence into a manageable disease. In 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic began, the laboratory began investigating potential treatments and vaccines for SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus infection.

About Dr. Krishna Udayakumar

Public health expert Dr. Krishna Udayakumar is the founding Director of the Duke Global Health Innovation Center and the Executive Director of Innovations in Healthcare, a non-profit focused on scaling transformative health solutions globally. He and his colleagues at the Duke Global Health Institute are informing the global pandemic response by tracking worldwide production and distribution of vaccines, developing strategies to increase vaccine availability and acceptance and advising decision-makers such as the World Health Organization on controlling the spread of the virus, allocating healthcare resources and mitigating disparities in care.

About Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr

Dr. Wafaa El-Sadr is a renowned epidemiologist and Director of ICAP at Columbia University, a global public health entity known for tackling the world’s toughest health challenges. She is also the Director of the Global Health Initiative at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health and was recently appointed the next Director of Columbia World Projects. Under her direction, ICAP became a leader in responding to the HIV crisis in some of the world’s most resource-challenged countries, and has subsequently expanded to focus on tuberculosis, malaria, maternal and child health and now COVID-19. Her team is working closely with partners around the world to implement a systems-level health response to the pandemic, including a rapid and equitable rollout of vaccines.

Headshot for Erin Streeter

About Erin Streeter

Erin Streeter serves as senior vice president of communications and brand strategy at the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), the nation’s largest industrial trade association. A veteran of high-stakes communications campaigns, Erin possesses a wide range of unique insights thanks to her diverse career experiences, from serving in senior-level positions at a national security agency, to working for one of the largest human service organizations in the country, to working as a television reporter. For her many accomplishments, she was named one of PR News’ Top Women in PR for 2015 and again in 2018.


About Stephen Massey

Stephen Massey is a social entrepreneur and communications expert who builds unlikely partnerships for social good — across geographies, industries and sectors.  Over the past 15 years, he has led integrated cause-marketing campaigns in the U.S. and abroad, and has cultivated initiatives with major foundations, media organizations, international institutions and Fortune 500 companies. Prior to launching Meteorite, Stephen co-founded a non-profit health policy organization in Russia, helped mobilize more than 300 of the world’s leading media companies in response to AIDS, and managed a multi-million dollar investment portfolio on behalf of a major operating foundation and the United Nations.