Tag Archives: infectious

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


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

Assessing infectious disease risks and impact of social media

Photo: DFID-UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia

During an infectious disease outbreak, how does a journalist provide accurate information about risks to the public as the event is unfolding?

Explain what is known and unknown at the time about the threat, and put the risk in context to risks that people assume daily, suggests Anthony Fauci, M.D., director of the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Continue reading

Like public health officials, reporters should ready BEFORE the next pandemic arrives

Photo: DFID-UK Department for International Development via Wikimedia

It can seem next to impossible to prepare for a threat you know will come without knowing what it will be, where it comes from, how it will travel, how bad it will be and where it will go. Yet that’s what thousands of public health officials and health care providers do on an ongoing basis in order to be ready for whatever infectious disease next threatens to become a pandemic.

During Health Journalism 2018, Bara Vaida, AHCJ’s core topic leader on infectious diseases, moderated a panel discussing what’s necessary to be ready for pandemics. That includes the barriers to being fully prepared, many facets related to an outbreak (including the health and safety of responders on the front line) and the challenge this presents for journalists covering public health. Continue reading

#AHCJ18 to explore what this flu season says about U.S. pandemic preparedness

Reporters covering the flu season know it has been one of the most severe in the past decade. As of early February, the number of people who have visited a doctor due to the flu had exceeded the 2009 swine flu pandemic. Public health officials have known since last fall that this flu season was likely to be severe, yet the health system had trouble keeping up. Hospitals have been overwhelmed. There have been shortages of antivirals, IV saline bags and flu shots. Dozens of children have died.

What does that say about the U.S. health system’s readiness for handling infectious disease outbreaks? We are among the wealthiest nations in the world, and yet every year the health system has trouble convincing people to get the flu vaccine and has further difficulty caring for those who get ill. Continue reading

Flu season hitting older adults hard

Photo: KOMUnews via Flickr

The headlines say it all: In Houston, “Elderly should avoid the flu at all costs this season;” in Cleveland, “Flu deaths continue to rise;” and in New Orleans, “Flu overwhelming emergency rooms.

This flu season is terrible. Really bad, this Time explainer notes. Unfortunately, it has been the most vulnerable — mostly children, those with serious chronic conditions, and older adults — who are paying the highest price. Continue reading