How reporting on people’s intent to get a COVID-19 vaccine can harm public health

Tara Haelle

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.

syringe

Photo: F&Prtw via Flickr

A recent Pew Research poll found that the proportion of Americans who said they would get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is released has dropped sharply since May. This isn’t necessarily very surprising, given the federal administration’s shenanigans with the CDC, documented in excellent reporting at Politico by Dan Diamond and the NYT by Apoorva Mandavilli. Then there’s the experience at the FDA, where emergency use authorizations were used for hydroxychloroquine and convalescent plasma before adequate evidence to support either one was available. Continue reading

Study says older adults vastly underrepresented in COVID-19 trials

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.

Elderly couple wearing masks

Photo: Babette Plana via Flickr

Approximately 80% of COVID-19 related deaths in the United States have been among people 65 or older, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But a research letter published online in JAMA Internal Medicine on Sept. 28 reported that more than half of COVID-19 clinical trials were “at high risk for excluding older adults,” and none included seniors as part of vaccine trials early in the pandemic.

Despite a National Institute of Health policy mandating the inclusion of older adults in appropriate clinical trials, older adults were left out more often than not as scientists struggled to get a handle on the coronavirus. Researchers found that 53% of trials they reviewed did not include those older than 65 for a variety of reasons, including compliance concerns, co-morbid conditions or technology requirements. About one in four of the trials reviewed by the researchers included an age “cutoff” that would exclude adults age 65 to 80, as UPI reported. Continue reading

New PubMed search site will continue to evolve

Tara Haelle

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.

PubMedIf you’re a frequent user of PubMed, you have likely already noticed the new website layout and have probably noticed some differences in search options or functionality. The new PubMed was first tested in labs at the National Library of Medicine site in March of 2019 and launched officially in fall 2019, but it wasn’t formally rolled out as the default until May 2020. (The old site is still available for a little longer — at least through the end of October — here.) Continue reading

What are the risks for older adults as flu season approaches?

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.

stock art for Flu Shot Risk

Photo: NIH Image Gallery via Flickr

Get your flu shot. Never, perhaps, has that advice been as important for older adults to act on as this year. As winter approaches, geriatricians and infectious disease experts are increasingly concerned about the effects of even a mild flu season on an already-vulnerable older adult population, especially those in long-term care facilities.

It’s been likened to “a perfect storm,” and sailing in “uncharted waters,” according to a recent editorial in Science magazine by Edward Bologna, director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute in Marshfield, Wisc., and Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. Cliches aside, the reality is we have no idea what to expect when the pandemic and flu season converge, especially without a proven COVID-19 vaccine that is safe and effective in the older population. Continue reading

What Missouri, Oklahoma teach us about state efforts to expand Medicaid eligibility

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.

Projected costs

Source: Analysis of the Fiscal Impact of Medicaid Expansion in Missouri, Center for Health Economics and Policy, Institute for Public Health, Washington University in St. Louis, 2019. Reprinted with permission.

Missouri voters in August approved a ballot measure that would expand Medicaid eligibility to include healthy adults, beginning July 1, 2021.

According to reporting at NPR by Alex Smith, 53.25% of 1.2 million voters approved the measure, meaning Missouri joins 36 other states and the District of Columbia in expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The approval came despite strong opposition from Republicans and rural voters, Smith wrote. Continue reading

Veteran editor, educator discusses where to look for COVID-19 enterprise stories

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.

COVID-19

Seven months into this pandemic, I know many health journalists may be struggling to stay on top of the unending breaking news about the pandemic. Developing national and local enterprise stories about COVID-19 can seem overwhelming.

If you haven’t already, I recommend signing up for Al Tompkins’ COVID-19 morning email. It is free and chock-full of story ideas and context that you can use for local, state, and national coverage that goes beyond a breaking news story. Continue reading