Tag Archives: vaccines

Former reporter offers new angles for covering vaccines, public health crises

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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 outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: Self Magazine via Flickr

Health reporters looking for another angle on covering vaccine debates should consider digging into the legal challenges public health officials face in considering quarantines and legislative measures prodding people to vaccinate their children, says Doug Levy, a former USA Today health journalist and author of the book “The Communications Golden Hour: The Essential Guide to Public Information When Every Minute Counts.”

Levy spent years in the trenches as a member of the media, and then as a communications leader for two large health systems.  He thinks journalists are missing the boat if they keep focusing stories just on people’s concerns about the safety of vaccines. Continue reading

Getting to the truth when covering measles outbreak

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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 outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

Photo: CDC/PHIL

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

Are state bans on vaccine exemptions the right approach?

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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 outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

PHOTO: SELF MAGAZINE VIA FLICKR

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

Persistent threats to U.S. children’s health the focus of #AHCJ19 session

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Ali H. Mokdad

While measles may be the hot topic in the news at the moment for children’s health, it’s far from the only concern. Even as the historical success of vaccines has reduced child mortality and morbidity from infectious disease, chronic disease, assault and injuries have increasingly become killers of U.S. children.

These were among the issues Ali H. Mokdad, Ph.D., a professor of global health at the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, discussed during his session at Health Journalism 2019, “From measles to obesity: Key health trends affecting children and adolescents.” Continue reading

Writing about vaccine hesitancy? There’s a study for that

Tara Haelle

About Tara Haelle

Tara Haelle (@TaraHaelle) is AHCJ's medical studies core topic leader, guiding journalists through the jargon-filled shorthand of science and research and enabling them to translate the evidence into accurate information.

Photo: Global Panorama via Flickr

Vaccines and vaccine hesitancy has been my primary micro-beat since I began working as a full-time health/science journalist, so it’s been interesting to watch how coverage of the topic has evolved over the past decade.

For far too long, false balance was the biggest problem plaguing media coverage of vaccination, a trend that only slowly began fading after The Lancet retracted Andrew Wakefield’s fraudulent study. Continue reading

Tip sheet helps journalists cover vaccine hesitancy responsibly

Bara Vaida

About Bara Vaida

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 outlets that include the National Journal, Agence France-Presse, Bloomberg News, McClatchy News Service, MSNBC, NPR, Politico and The Washington Post.

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