[The following is a guest op-ed and does not necessarily reflect the views of AHCJ or its board of directors.]
We all know how to end the coronavirus pandemic: Get vaccinated. But we also know that reality has run into resistance from millions across the nation who are hesitant to get the vaccine.
In an effort to clear up misinformation about vaccines, The Boston Globe will run a special front-page section on Aug. 18 that will comprehensively debunk myths about vaccines and identify other barriers to vaccination in our community. The package will include stories, charts, and a diagram on how to respectfully talk to people about their vaccine concerns.
We will also publish an editorial that addresses vaccine hesitancy in our community and recommends next steps to encourage vaccination. We’d love it if you would join us by writing your own editorial for Aug. 18. As trusted members of our communities, we can each address our individual community’s concerns and hopefully persuade people to get vaccinated. Publishing on the same day would send a powerful message to the nation that civic journalism can help solve this public health crisis. Please join us. It’s our last best shot.
Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic leader on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News 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.
A recent survey of family caregivers revealed some troubling information about the divide between rural and urban communities regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the poll, nearly one in three (31%) family caregivers who live in rural communities say they won’t take the older adult under their care to get the COVID-19 vaccine—nearly double the refusal rate of urban and suburban caregivers (16%). About the same number (36%) of rural caregivers say they won’t get vaccinated themselves.
Safety concerns primarily drive caregivers’ unwillingness to get the vaccine for their loved ones and themselves, according to survey respondents. Among the rural family caregivers surveyed, an overwhelming 81% have doubts that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe and more than a quarter (28%) are “not at all confident” in the vaccine’s safety. In comparison, 9% of their urban and suburban peers are not at all confident. Taken together, experts say the findings show how difficult it will be to save lives in communities where access to healthcare is already limited. Continue reading →
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.
Tara Haelle, AHCJ core topic leader on medical studies, contributed to this post.
Journalists have a tricky role when covering a public health issue like vaccine hesitancy and opposition. We have a responsibility to report medical facts, but we also want to tell stories of these facts playing out in real life – and we must avoid appearing as advocates or taking a “stance” on whether parents should vaccinate their children or not.
The medical evidence is clear – vaccines are safe and effective – but a small minority of people refuse, or remain unable, to accept medical evidence. Since that small minority can have a substantial impact on public health more broadly, journalists have to capture the micro and the macro while balancing storytelling with facts. Continue reading →