Tag Archives: swine flu

Corporate clinics scored scarce H1N1 shots

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

USA Today‘s Alison Young reviewed state H1N1 vaccine distribution information from Florida, Texas and Georgia, finding that “When the swine flu vaccine was most scarce, health officials gave thousands of doses to corporate clinics at Walt Disney World, Toyota, defense contractors, oil companies and cruise lines.”

Young is working on getting the same data for New York and California. The officials Young talked to stressed that they were doing their best to distribute vaccines fairly, but Young quoted legislators and activists who questioned state health department’s ability to ensure that, once vaccines were given to corporations, they were delivered to the folks who needed them most.

Fluportal.org stays on top of H1N1

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

While H1N1 seems to have peaked in many states – at least for now – Fluportal.org‘s resources to cover the pandemic are still growing. Recent highlights include tips for using American Public Media’s Public Insight Network (which we’ve mentioned before in conjunction with a ProPublica story on health care reform), a few interesting photos with creative commons licenses (like a collection of H1N1 street art).

streetpig
One of the creative commons licensed shots of H1N1 street art spotlighted by fluportal.org. Photo by Brazilian artist guitavares via Flickr.

Fluportal also has tackled some media ethics issues related to the outbreak, notably in a post where staff from PRI’s The World had to consider how to frame the German medical establishment’s reluctance to recommend the H1N1 vaccine. After all, they did not want to confuse listeners or have a negative impact on public health, but they also weren’t going to “censor” the sincere opinions of German doctors, even if they conflicted with CDC advice.

Related

Public broadcasters have H1N1 site for journalists

Hoban reports on uneven H1N1 death disclosure

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

WUNC reporter and AHCJ member Rose Hoban put together a story about uneven disclosure of H1N1 deaths by public health officials and the possible benefits and risks of providing more information. In the end, Hoban reported, it comes down to balancing individual privacy and the public interest.

On the official side, Hoban spoke to Megan Davies, M.D., North Carolina’s epidemiologist, who referred to the lack of a “compelling public health need” to provide H1N1 death data on a county-by-county level, pointing out that in many areas it would be easy for locals to take that information, match it with recent death records and come up with the name of the infected person. Davies said that, in cases like that, she fears the infected person’s family would be stigmatized.

“The fear of contagion’s a really primitive thing that comes up in people,” Davies said.

Additionally, Hoban says, officials are bound by medical ethics, state laws and federal health privacy regulations (which, she notes, generally don’t cover people who are already dead).

For another perspective, Hoban spoke with AHCJ board member Felice Freyer of The Providence Journal. Freyer discussed AHCJ’s report that disclosure had been uneven across the country, and said that officials should share information unless there’s a compelling reason not to.

“Public health officials can’t do their job if they don’t have the trust of the public and no-ones going to trust them if they hide information for no reason,” Freyer said.

Former CDC lead legal counsel Gene Matthews agreed, noting that “Too little information can be a bigger headache than too much.” According to Matthews, this problem has been exacerbated by the Internet where, “If the public health officials don’t provide enough information, the outsiders will simply make it up.”

Rounding up some of the latest health coverage

About Pia Christensen

Pia Christensen (@AHCJ_Pia) is the managing editor/online services for AHCJ. She manages the content and development of healthjournalism.org, coordinates AHCJ's social media efforts and edits and manages production of association guides, programs and newsletters.

With good topics for the blog flooding in and a short holiday week to get them all posted, I’m taking a shortcut to point you toward some interesting stories:

ProPublica: What Health Care Reform Means for the underinsured

Rapidly rising premiums have forced them to increase their deductible every year, and now they have a policy with a $5,000 deductible per illness per year.

Steve Lopez in the Los Angeles Times: A doctor is flummoxed by the costs when he becomes the patient

As a physician, he’s well aware that emergency room treatment is very expensive. But knowing the true cost of the limited supplies and labor required to treat such a minor wound, he found the experience more than a little disturbing.

Trevor Butterworth in Forbes.com: Why mall Santas do need the H1N1 vaccine, featuring AHCJ board member Maryn McKenna’s take on how well the media has covered H1N1.

McKenna gives the media a “gentleman’s C” for its coverage of swine flu, but believes it has been getting better in the past few months.

AHCJ member Elaine Schattner, M.D., in the Huffington Post: Mammography: A Not-So-Fatalistic View

I’m a medical oncologist and breast cancer survivor who holds a highly informed and intensely personal perspective on the subject. In my view, the press is getting and giving the wrong message on mammography. There are significant flaws in recent analyses that have escaped most headlines.

Tech company aggregates, digitizes H1N1 info

About Andrew Van Dam

Andrew Van Dam of The Wall Street Journal previously worked at the AHCJ offices while earning his master’s degree at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Ebrary, a Silicon Valley outfit that specializes in digitizing and aggregating documents, then making them searchable, has put together a robust collection of H1N1-related documents.

docs
Photo by nacaseven via Flickr.

Ebrary says it put the free database together because of employees’ personal frustrations over the unavailability of solid H1N1 information online. The database eases that frustration by making resources as varied as public health posters, FAQs and academic studies easy to browse and search.

While the documents are available elsewhere on the Web, journalists might find it helpful to browse this well-organized collection.

Ebrary’s H1N1 sources include Occupational Safety and Health Administration, CDC, the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, HHS, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, Department of Homeland Security, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the World Health Organization and more.