Do you wrestle with ways to illustrate numbers when writing about vaccines?
Dr. Gretchen LaSalle, a family physician in Spokane, Wash., recently offered some ways to do this effectively in a blog post called Vaccine Data: Do the Math.
LaSalle skillfully highlights two examples of how numbers can be used. In one example, related to flu figures, she suggests how real-life context can make the risks of the flu more obvious. In another example, related to measles data, she underscores how numbers can be used to mislead. Continue reading
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
A basic tenant in reporting is that there are two sides to a story, but in public health, that may not always be the case, says Melba Newsome, a Charlotte, N.C.-based freelance health care journalist whose work has appeared in the New York Times, O magazine, Time, and other publications.
Newsome was confronted with this challenge when writing an in-depth story for CQ Researcher on the recent measles outbreak, and the story behind how the contagious disease has made a come back in the era of modern medicine. Continue reading
Is eliminating the religious or philosophical exemption from vaccinations the right public policy tool to stop and prevent measles outbreaks? This is a public policy debate that hasn’t been widely covered, but is an important conflict within the public health world and worth the attention of journalists.
Earlier this year, Daniel Salmon, Ph.D., director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Vaccine Safety, raised concerns that state efforts to pass laws banning the religious exemption could backfire by increasing mistrust of public health officials and harden parents’ objections to vaccinating their children. Continue reading
In May, the measles outbreak became the worst in 30 years, as communities across the country continue to battle the pathogen, which has sickened 1,077 people as of June 20, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
New York has been one of the hardest hit states in the country, with more than 500 cases, in part because Brooklyn, a borough in New York City, and Rockland County, are homes of large and close-knit Orthodox Jewish communities. Many parents in these communities have decided not to vaccinate their children because of concerns about the health implications of vaccines. Continue reading