Category Archives: Infectious diseases

More resources on variants for your COVID-19 reporting toolbox

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Back in January, Bara Vaida, the AHCJ core topic leader for infectious disease, wrote a helpful post on resources for tracking COVID-19 variants. But in the age of COVID, data moves fast enough to give us constant whiplashes, and so much has changed since then. The most significant change is that the number of variants of concern — a term that not yet defined at the time of Vaida’s post — has grown to at least five:

  • 1.1.7 (UK)
  • 1.351 (South Africa)
  • 1 (Brazil)
  • 1.427 and B.1.429 (California)

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Don’t forget about coverage of other vaccines

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Vaccine

Photo: Self Magazine via Flickr

Reading the news these days, it seems the word “vaccine” automatically refers to the COVID-19 vaccine, no matter the context. But it’s important not to forget about research coming out about other vaccines as well. That’s especially true since multiple studies have found that childhood immunization rates have fallen during the pandemic.

One of the most recent studies that deserves some coverage is a research letter published April 27 in JAMA that found in national data that only 16% of men aged 18-21 had ever received at least one dose of the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. The HPV vaccine has long struggled to gain a foothold among U.S. youth, but 16% falls well short of the 42% of women in the same age range who had received at least one dose. Continue reading

Fixing the public health system for the next pandemic

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Hotel floor sticker

Photo: Bryan Alexander via Flickr

The American Rescue Plan (ARP), passed by Congress last month, will be sending about $100 billion into the U.S. public health system — money which is badly needed. But it isn’t enough for the long-term to prepare for the next pandemic.

The pandemic laid bare what had long been known — the nation’s federal, state, local, tribal and territorial public health agencies have been underfunded for decades. When SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, began spreading, public health departments were so understaffed and working with such antiquated information systems that they could not respond to the fast-spreading pathogen quickly. Continue reading

Covering oversight of federal government pandemic spending

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

NY National Guard staffing a mobile testing center

PHOTO: The National Guard via Flickr

The pandemic laid bare the woeful underfunding of the nation’s public health system as states and localities continue to struggle to provide timely testing, contact tracing, clear guidance to the public and reach vulnerable and underserved communities.

Though the pace of vaccinations has picked up considerably in the past month, the paucity of staff and resources at state and local health departments has meant that many public health departments could not get vaccines into the arms of the public as quickly as hoped, given the continued spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Continue reading

One journalist’s efforts to counter misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines

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 the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico, The Washington Post and other outlets.

Daniel Funke

Daniel Funke

Alarm over the impact of COVID-19 misinformation has been growing, especially with increasing efforts by right-wing groups to spread misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines.

The effort to end the pandemic through vaccination could stall if too many people refuse to take the vaccine because they don’t have the correct facts to make a decision. It can be a daily battle by journalists to correct false statements on social media — especially for those on the fact-checking beat.

“It is hard to stay on top of everything,” Daniel Funke, staff writer at PolitiFact, a non-partisan fact-checking website, said during a recent How I Did It interview for AHCJ. “We don’t have a great way to quantify misinformation and where it is coming from because we’d have to fact check everything on the internet.” Continue reading