Author Archives: Bara Vaida

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.

U.S. vaccine safety system needs greater visibility, webcast panelists say

PHOTO: SELF MAGAZINE VIA FLICKR

As state legislators have grappled with policies to address vaccine hesitancy, public health officials and journalists could do more to emphasize that the United States has a well-established and effective vaccine safety surveillance system, policy experts told AHCJ members during a Nov. 21 webcast.

The U.S. engages several agencies and organizations, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the National Academy of Medicine, plus eight health care systems and seven academic hospitals in monitoring vaccine safety. Continue reading

Deregulation of pork production highlights need to cover food safety

Photo: Anne Akers via Flkr

In late September 2019, the U.S. Department of Agriculture finalized rules to deregulate the safety inspection process in pork production and to increase the slaughter of animals, despite the opposition of consumer advocates and several former agency officials.

The new rules allow company employees, rather than USDA inspectors, to determine which parts of meat with defects can be removed from the slaughter process. Companies, instead of USDA inspectors, also will be allowed to determine slaughter speeds, based on their ability to prevent fecal contamination. Continue reading

Former reporter offers new angles for covering vaccines, public health crises

Photo: Self Magazine via Flickr

Health reporters looking for another angle on covering vaccine debates should consider digging into the legal challenges public health officials face in considering quarantines and legislative measures prodding people to vaccinate their children, says Doug Levy, a former USA Today health journalist and author of the book “The Communications Golden Hour: The Essential Guide to Public Information When Every Minute Counts.”

Levy spent years in the trenches as a member of the media, and then as a communications leader for two large health systems.  He thinks journalists are missing the boat if they keep focusing stories just on people’s concerns about the safety of vaccines. Continue reading

Getting to the truth when covering measles outbreak

Photo: CDC/PHIL

A basic tenant in reporting is that there are two sides to a story, but in public health, that may not always be the case, says Melba Newsome, a Charlotte, N.C.-based freelance health care journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, O magazine, Time, and other publications.

Newsome was confronted with this challenge when writing an in-depth story for CQ Researcher on the recent measles outbreak, and the story behind how the contagious disease has made a come back in the era of modern medicine. Continue reading

CDC: Update of national antibiotic resistance figures due next month

Photo: Francisco Bengoa via Flickr

Since 2013, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been saying that, in their conservative estimate, at least 2 million people in the U.S. are infected with an antimicrobial resistant pathogen and at least 23,000 die from it.

But those numbers likely are much higher. By mid-November, the public will know more when the agency is expected to release its second antibiotic resistance threat report. The new numbers are likely to show that antimicrobial resistance is worsening and more people are dying from resistant pathogens than previously believed. Continue reading

Examining the ongoing destructive history of the mosquito

Photo: Gustavo Fernando Durán via Flickr

While the threat of mosquito-borne diseases in the U.S. has mostly faded since the Zika outbreak in 2016, Timothy Winegard warns that another one is probably around the corner, if history is any guide.

Winegard, a history professor at Colorado Mesa University, published an extensive history of the mosquito’s enduring and broad impact on the shape of geopolitics around the world, which demonstrates that the animal remains a threat to humanity. Continue reading