Tag Archives: boosters

Understanding the bigger public health debate on COVID-19 booster vaccines

Paul Offit

Paul Offit, M.D., speaks at CSICON in 2018. Photo by Karl Withakay (CC BY-SA 4.0)

When covering public health policy decision-making, it’s not uncommon for experts to agree on the big picture but disagree on the details — how to get there. 

That’s particularly been the case when it comes to deciding which populations should be urged to receive COVID-19 booster shots. When reporters interview experts about the booster shots, it’s critical that they clarify whether the expert’s comments represent only their own opinion, an overall consensus or that of one faction within a greater quasi-consensus.

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Curbing the confusion: Strategies for covering the latest COVID booster shot approvals

woman fills syringe with covid vaccine

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kegan E. Kay. Public domain photo

The FDA approved the updated Pfizer and Moderna mRNA COVID-19 vaccines Monday, and the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices was deliberating on Tuesday what the public recommendations should be once shots become available. 

As reporters prepare stories about these recommendations, it’s crucial they work to dispel any confusion about the boosters and provide their audience with contextual information about how booster shot recommendations are made. 

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How to report on the COVID-19 uptick
when the public says ‘meh’

Photo by Aman Abdulalim via Unsplash

In New York, in Chicago, in California, in North Texas, even overseas, COVID-19 cases are beginning to tick upward with a new variant called Eris (appropriately named for the Greek goddess of strife and discord who started the Trojan War with her golden apple). With the heat pushing people indoors and protection from vaccinations waning, it appears another fall wave is on its way just as the school year is starting.

In this late stage of the pandemic, it may feel challenging to keep COVID-19 stories fresh for a fatigued public. But COVID-19 is here to stay, so it may help to think of COVID-19 stories much as you would your annual flu stories: Even if it feels as though you’ve written it before, your audience needs the information again about how rates are trending, tips on reducing risk of infection, and what’s going on with vaccines and boosters.

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Bivalent booster efficacy and covering vaccination rates among seniors

Photo by SHVETS production via pexels.

The CDC is urging everyone, especially older adults (65+) to get their bivalent COVID-19 booster as soon as possible. Among hospitalized seniors, the updated booster provided significant additional protection against hospitalization compared with being unvaccinated or only receiving monovalent vaccination. During the holiday season, in particular, they’re also encouraging all adults 65 and older to further protect themselves from infection by masking and social distancing when possible.

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