Discussions include treatment of mental health issues behind bars

Katti Gray

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

jail-cell

Photo: Paul Robinson via Flickr

A multi-partisan discussion of criminal justice reform — among Democrats, Republicans and billionaire philanthropists ranging from the libertarian Koch Brothers to the liberal George Soros, who are financing reform efforts — includes the question of what to do about people with mental illnesses who wind up behind bars, including for minor, non-violent offenses.

In its most recent report, released in 2017, the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics reported that 14% of a yearly count of roughly 2.3 million convicted state and federal prisoners and 26% of jailed pre-trial detainees “met the threshold for serious psychological distress.” By comparison, during that same period, mental illness had been diagnosed in 5% of the U.S. population of comparable race, age and gender of those incarcerated persons. Continue reading

Poll explores hesitancy among older adults to get a COVID-19 vaccine

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/gilbert_mercier/49924257947">Gilbert Mercier</a> via Flickr

Photo: Gilbert Mercier via Flickr

A new poll of adults over age 50 – one of the highest-priority groups to receive a COVID-19 vaccine – suggests an uphill climb may lie ahead for some in this group to get vaccinated.

One in five older adults (20%) indicated they want to get a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. However, nearly half (46%) said they want to wait until others have received it, according to the survey released Nov. 24 by the National Poll on Healthy Aging project at University of Michigan. Continue reading

AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccine shows promise for older adults

Liz Seegert

About Liz Seegert

Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.

Transmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

Photo: NIAID via FlickrTransmission electron micrograph of SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, isolated from a patient.

There’s good news for older adults from a new phase2/phase 3 trial of the COVID-19 vaccine under development by Oxford University and AstraZeneca. Researchers found that the partners’ ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine provides a similar immune response across age groups following a boost dose and appears to be better tolerated in older adults than in younger adults, according to a study published last week in The Lancet. Continue reading

Pandemic expert says transparency key to a successful COVID-19 vaccine rollout

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

Bara Vaida (@barav) is AHCJ's core topic leader on infectious diseases. An independent journalist, she has written extensively about health policy and infectious diseases. Her work has appeared in outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Departement des Yvelines via Flickr

Hilary Marston, M.D., medical officer and policy adviser for pandemic preparedness at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said she and her colleagues are “thrilled” about announcements that at least two COVID-19 vaccines so far have been shown to have an efficacy of over 90% in late-stage clinical trials.

“I don’t think any of us could have hoped for those results,” Marston said during a Nov. 18 interview at the AHCJ Journalism Summit on Infectious Disease. “We are … ready to work with the FDA to get the data to them as soon as possible.” Continue reading

NIH head: Journalists have important role in explaining the science behind vaccine development

Joseph Burns

About Joseph Burns

Joseph Burns (@jburns18), a Massachusetts-based independent journalist, is AHCJ’s topic leader on health insurance. He welcomes questions and suggestions on insurance resources and tip sheets at joseph@healthjournalism.org.

Francis S. Collins

Francis S. Collins

As coronavirus infections rise nationwide, health care journalists have an important role in explaining the science behind the development, safety and effectiveness of COVID-19 vaccines, said Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., the director of the National Institutes of Health.

As the Nov. 18 keynote speaker at AHCJ’s Journalism Summit on Infectious Disease, Collins gave a stark warning for journalists and all Americans about the need to recognize the value of the vaccines as they are rolled out in the coming months. Continue reading

Intersection of mental health, law enforcement complex, changing

Katti Gray

About Katti Gray

Katti Gray (@kattigray) is AHCJ's core topic leader for behavioral and mental health. A former Rosalynn Carter Mental Health Journalism Fellow, Gray is providing resources to help AHCJ members expand their coverage of mental health amid ongoing efforts to de-stigmatize mental illness and to place mental health care on par with all health care.

hand gun

Photo: Dmitriy via Flickr

A Philadelphia police officer’s recent, fatal shooting of 27-year-old Walter Wallace Jr., as he wielded a knife, dramatized how, according to the numbers,  those with mental illness are less likely to do harm than to be harmed, including by law enforcement.

In its most recent report on this topic, “Overlooked in the Undercounted,” the national Treatment Advocacy Center said persons with mental illness were 16 times more likely than those without mental illness to be killed during encounters with law enforcement. While the mentally ill account for 1 in 50 adults, they are estimated to represent 1 in 4 adults who are approached by police, the center’s researchers wrote. Continue reading