Listen to what Montana experts are sharing around vaccination and health risks.

They are breaking down their research findings to share to help inform your health choices and understand what their research means to Montanans.  Here you'll find webinars to attend and published articles to read. 

YouTube Series, Strategies for Conversations about Health Topics:

Have you ever wondered how best to have hard health conversations with loved ones? Dr. Heather Voorhees, Assistant Professor at University of Montana shares what the research suggests might be effective ways to have these discussions with specific strategies, conversation cues, and realistic goals. She also shares tips for avoiding the trap of misinformation in your health research!





Webinar Series, COVID-19 Conversations with Montana Experts:

MSU Extension is hosting a series of Conversations with Montana Experts on different aspects of Covid-19.  The webinar series will provide an opportunity for Montanans to hear directly from doctors, researchers and other healthcare experts about virology, immunization research, lab testing, health communication, vaccine hesitancy and other public health topics.  The goal is provide Montanans with access to accurate and timely information about Covid-19 to help them make informed decisions.

COVID-19 Conversations with Montana Experts, Tuesday (dates listed below) from Noon-1 pm MST.  Registration is required to attend- see form or link below. 

  1. "How Vaccines Work" Andrea Marzi, PhD Rocky Mountain labs  View Video Recording of this Webinar on YouTube 

  2. "The Economics of Vaccination Subsidies, Incentives, and Policies" Mariana Carrera, PhD Montana State University
    View Video Recording of this Webinar on YouTube

  3. "COVID-19 and the Laboratory" Chris Nero, MD, Bozeman Health View Video Recording of this Webinar on YouTube

  4. "Identifying and Addressing Barriers to Child and Adolescent Vaccination in Montana" Sophia Newcomer, PhD University of Montana  View a Video Recording of this Webinar on YouTube


By Michaela Williamson

In February of 2021, Assistant Professor Heather Voorhees, PhD, was featured as a speaker through the University of Montana’s Community Lecture Series titled “Belief and Truth in a Time of Healing”. Her talk was titled "Public Pleas and Family Feuds: The challenges of changing behavior and maintaining relationships during a pandemic". She shares her expert understanding of our challenges communicating with one another about vaccination as well as some strategies that might be more effective at promoting public health between loved ones.

Dr. Voorhees is a Montana expert faculty within Communication Studies at the University of Montana. She has numerous individual and collaborative published works that explore health related communication surrounding chronic illnesses in different relational contexts such as provider-patient and patient-family member.

In her talk, Dr. Voorhees shares the history of responsive behavior surrounding public health mandates and messaging. She notes that resistance is not a new challenge in pandemic-related behavior nor in relation to other health behaviors. She discusses theoretically how our reactions to behaviors (i.e. social distancing and mask wearing) are affected by aspects such as our perceptions of personal freedom, how reactive we are to persuasive language, our individualistic Western cultural values, and even our human instincts. Finally, she provides us with tools and strategies to model our conversations with our loved ones concerning health behavior. Remember to check your preconceived ideas around other's intended behavior and find compromises where you can.

by Andrea Marzi PhD

Dr. Marzi is a German virologist. She is Chief of the Immunobiology and Molecular Virology Unit at The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT.

Are you curious about what vaccines are and how they work? Local virologist, Dr. Andrea Marzi, Chief of the Immunobiology and Molecular Virology Unit at Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, MT, explains how vaccines came to be and the science behind their effectiveness. Dr. Marzi also outlines the process of the different COVID-19 vaccines and how they work.

Read the full article "The Science of Vaccines and How They Work."

by Michelle Grocke PhD

Michelle Grocke-Dewey, PhD is a Medical Anthropologist who currently serves as the Health and Wellness Specialist for MSU Extension and as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health and Human Development at MSU. 

This article assesses the relationship between physical activity and mental health during COVID-19. Data illustrate that there is a cyclical relationship that exists between these two variables; those individuals that were not able to maintain pre-COVID 19 physical activity levels experienced worse mental health outcomes during the pandemic, which made it even more difficult to engage in any sort of physical activity, which further deteriorated their mental health. Given the positive influence that physical activity has on both individuals' physical and mental health, this article urges that more attention be given to increasing access to physical activity opportunities across demographic groups. 

Read the full article "The Relationship Between Physical Activity and Mental Health During COVID-19."

By Mariana Carrera, PhD

Mariana Carrera is an Assistant Professor of Economics at Montana State University and a Faculty Research Fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research. She earned her Ph.D. in Economics at University of California, Berkeley and her B.S. in Economics and Political Science at Duke University.  Her research expertise is in health economics and behavioral economics.

Fifteen U.S. states have laws encouraging or mandating influenza vaccination (i.e. flu shots) for hospital workers. The authors use a quasi-experimental design to measure the average effect of these laws on statewide mortality related to influenza. They find that the laws led to a 2.5% reduction in deaths related to influenza, with the largest effects occurring among the elderly and during peak influenza months. These findings suggest that hospital workers can be unwitting vectors of disease transmission and vaccinating them can help protect the most vulnerable populations.

 Read the full article "Population Mortality and Laws Encouraging Influenza Vaccination for Hospital Workers."