Explain It Like I’m 6: A Vaccine Education Contest 

Welcome to the inaugural Explain It Like I’m 6: A Vaccine Education Contest, presented in partnership by University of Toronto’s Centre for Vaccine Preventable Diseases (CVPD) and the Emerging and Pandemic Infections Consortium (EPIC).  

The CVPD is housed at U of T’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and brings together vaccine experts from across disciplines to maximize the benefits of immunization for everyone. EPIC is a partnership between the Hospital for Sick Children, Lunenfeld-Tanenbaum Research Institute, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Unity Health Toronto, University Health Network and University of Toronto. It brings together researchers from different disciplines to facilitate an integrated and innovative response to high-risk, high-burden infectious diseases. The CVPD and EPIC share a goal of increasing science literacy and access to accurate information on emerging threats and the incredible scientific tools that help us protect ourselves, such as vaccines.  

The impact of vaccines was pulled into sharp focus during the pandemic, as were the gaps in the public’s understanding of vaccine science. With this in mind, we invite students at any Canadian university to get creative and explain an aspect of vaccines or vaccine science in a way that a 6-year-old would comprehend. After all, as the saying goes, if you can’t explain it to a child, you don’t understand it yourself.  

The Challenge

Explain an aspect of vaccine science that you feel is crucial and/or often misunderstood in a way that a 6-year-old would be able to understand.  

Current university students, including undergraduate and graduate students, students in professional programs, postdoctoral fellows, medical residents and fellows at any Canadian university. Please use your institutional email address for your submission. Submissions received from personal emails will not be considered.

Submissions will be judged on creativity, relevance, clarity, out-of-the-box thinking, and above-all accuracy. We are also looking for content that will resonate with audiences online and on social media. The winners will be determined by a panel of judges from the CVPD and EPIC. Our Kids’ Choice Award winner will be selected with input from a few classrooms of first graders.  

Submissions can be either:  

  • Essay: Maximum 300 words  
  • Image: Maximum three, 1080 px by 1080 px each, .jpg or .png 
  • Video: 3 minutes or less, shot vertical, .mp4 

Only one entry per participant will be considered. Individual entries only and all submissions must be in English.  

All entries must be original content and free of copyright. We will announce the winners and share their submissions on the CVPD and EPIC’s websites and social media with credit to the applicant.

Select shortlisted entries will also be displayed on the CVPD and EPIC’s websites and social media channels with permission from the applicants. Applicants retain sole rights to their work and all submitted entries not selected for prizes or publication will be deleted from our records by May 1, 2024.


The following three prizes will be awarded: 

  • First place – $500  
  • Runner-up – $200 
  • Kid’s Choice Award – special prize pack 

Important dates

  • Submissions open — Monday, January 15, 2024  
  • Contest closes — Friday, March 1, 2024 at 6:00 pm ET 
  • Winners will be announced on the CVPD and EPIC’s websites and social channels in April 2024.

Help us spread the word!

Download a PDF of the contest poster and share it with your friends, colleagues and students.

If you have questions, please contact us at cvpd.dlsph@utoronto.ca and epic@utoronto.ca.