Tag Archives: resources

Tips for reporting on what experts say could be a tough flu season for the elderly

As cases of the Delta variant start to wane, infectious disease specialists have a new concern this fall — flu and pneumonia, especially in vulnerable populations like older adults.

Experts from the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) and the CDC expressed concern about a potentially serious flu season at a video press briefing on October 7.  Flu cases during 2020-21 were extremely low— just 2,124 confirmed cases between Sept. 27, 2020, and May 15, 2021— thanks in large part to people working from home, wearing masks, social distancing and practicing good hand hygiene.

But as more communities ease restrictions, the flu could surge this year, impacting many more people. For seniors, whose immune systems are weaker than younger adults, that could mean an increase in hospitalizations, cases of pneumonia, or even deaths.

“The medical and public health community are preparing for a potentially vigorous respiratory virus session in the United States,” said William Schaffner, M.D., NFID medical director, who moderated the briefing. “The best way to prepare is to get your flu vaccine.”

Vaccination is especially important among at-risk populations, including adults 65 and older, and those with certain chronic conditions according to Schaffner.

Currently, the U.S. is on track for similar flu vaccination rates as 2020, about 52% overall, according to CDC director Rochelle Walensky, M.D., M.P.H., who participated in the briefing.  That rate may not be good enough this year to keep case rates low.

A recent NFID survey revealed that even among those who are at high risk for complications, nearly 1 in 4 (23%) were not planning to get vaccinated this season. While most people over age 65 (71%) said they will get a flu shot, 30% of seniors would remain unprotected, leading to potentially serious consequences.

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Grow your freelance business with resources from AHCJ 

Closeup of person taking notes

Photo: Security & Defence Agenda via Flickr

Freelancers are always looking for resources to help find sources for stories, identify editors, improve pitches, connect with colleagues and run our small businesses. AHCJ is a rich source of material.

Moderated email discussion list: Join this community for support, encouragement and practical information from your fellow AHCJ members. It’s a great place to ask about possible sources to interview or for suggestions about outlets to pitch a particular story idea. (Click on “Networking” at the top of the AHCJ home page or https://healthjournalism.org/resources-listserv.php.)

Market Guides: This is where freelancers can find out what assigning editors at specific outlets want from writers. We ask editors to share information about fees, length of stories, where and how to pitch and common mistakes freelancers make when pitching story ideas. Currently, there are eighteen guides, including Scientific American and the BMJ. The guides are being updated and their number expanded. (Click on the “Freelancers” tab on the AHCJ homepage or https://healthjournalism.org/freelancers#marketguide.) Continue reading

Resources for journalists on how the American Rescue Plan will reduce the number of uninsured Americans

American Rescue Plan Act: Health Coverage Provisions Explained,

Source: “American Rescue Plan Act: Health Coverage Provisions Explained,” from the Center for Children and Families and the Center on Health Insurance Reforms at the Georgetown Health Policy Institute, March 11, 2021.The American Rescue Plan reduces the maximum income contribution households would need to pay for health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, limiting the top level to 8.5% of income.

Included in the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan (ARP) that President Biden signed into law last Thursday is an estimated $34 billion to fund the Affordable Care Act’s most significant expansion since Congress passed the ACA in 2010.

The new law is expected to extend health insurance coverage to about 2.5 million uninsured Americans, according to a recent analysis from the Congressional Budget Office.

“The American Rescue Plan will be the biggest coverage expansion in the 11-year history of the Affordable Care Act (ACA),” said a spokesperson for the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Now that the bill is signed into law, HHS will provide additional information about implementation. Continue reading

Reporting on global urgency for COVID-19 vaccine rollout

South African officials inspect a shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Photo: GovernmentZA via FlickrSouth African officials inspect a shipment of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The World Health Organization (WHO) currently estimates that ending the COVID-19 pandemic will require at least 70% of the world’s 7.8 billion population to have immunity to the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which may take until 2023 or longer given the logistical challenges of getting a vaccine from manufacturing plants into people’s arms around the world.

Wealthier nations have contracted with vaccine makers to buy more than half of the world’s COVID-19 vaccine supply of 8.2 billion doses as of mid-February, while less affluent countries have purchased only about 16 percent of the supply, according to Duke University’s Global Health Innovation Center. Just 10 countries had administered 75 percent of all vaccine doses, and 130 countries hadn’t administered any doses, the WHO said. Continue reading

New resources for covering the virus that’s changed our world

What a year it’s been for health care journalism to shine.

On Jan. 5, 2020, the World Health Organization issued a press release announcing a pneumonia of “unknown-cause” was circulating in Wuhan, China. By mid-January, Chinese scientists identified the cause as a coronavirus, eventually dubbed SARS-CoV-2, and publicly shared the virus’s genetic sequence. The disease caused by the virus was named COVID-19. Continue reading