Flu Fighter: Samy Awwad
Meet Samy Awwad, a junior board member of Families Fighting Fluexternal icon (FFF), a national nonprofit advocacy organization dedicated to protecting children, families, and communities against flu. At age 15, Samy founded ImmuniGlobal, a nonprofit organization that works to stop the spread of infectious diseases. He is currently a freshman at Stanford University on a pre-medical educational track. In fall 2019, ImmuniGlobal collaborated with FFF to distribute influenza fact sheets and other resources at ImmuniGlobal’s high school presentations. Samy looks forward to continuing to collaborate with FFF on future projects.
Name: Samy Awwad
Title: Junior Board Member at Families Fighting Flu
Location: Stanford, California
- Why is fighting flu important to you, and how has it impacted you personally?
Fighting influenza and other infectious diseases goes back to 2019, during my high school years in Humboldt County, California. As a student interested in studying geography, I came across an article indicating that a measles outbreak was on the cusp of spreading locally, and I saw the opportunity to take action. I founded ImmuniGlobal, a nonprofit organization aimed at stopping the spread of infectious diseases, like measles and flu, through community education and online public health materials.
- What would you say to others who are hesitant to get a flu vaccine?
The same message I tried to impart during ImmuniGlobal workshops about flu is still relevant now: the sea of scientific literature and proof of long-term safety collectively indicate that vaccines like the ones we have for flu are important tools we have toward fighting infectious disease. High communal vaccine uptake has eradicated numerous diseases. Getting vaccinated is an obligation on behalf of yourself and the communities you belong to; it’s an honorable duty that can save lives.
- What lead you to be involved in FFF
After several rounds of email communication, I partnered with Families Fighting Flu to distribute educational materials outside and during my high school presentations. I was inspired by the people behind FFF, whose stories of loved ones who succumbed to influenza really helped to galvanize my emphasis on flu during the fall 2019 ImmuniGlobal presentations.
- How are you taking a stance to fight flu?
Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic and much of the United States went into lockdown, I shifted gears to focus my educational efforts on the virtual space. I currently serve as a junior board member at Families Fighting Flu, where I help inform strategies and coordinate plans to increase flu vaccine education and uptake in K-12 schools and colleges. I serve as a think tank member at the Vienna Vaccine Safety Initiative, where I’m currently working on a systematic review regarding Europe’s struggle with increasing vaccine uptake among minority populations.