6 tips for covering COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

By Naseem S. Miller, The Journalist’s Resource, Harvard Kennedy Shorenstein Center |

…[The Journalist’s Resource] asked several researchers and journalists how they think reporters should cover the topic of vaccine hesitancy. Here’s their advice distilled in six tips.
1. Find out why someone, or a segment of the community, is vaccine hesitant.
“Don’t assume that a community would be vaccine hesitant and don’t assume why a community would be vaccine-hesitant,” says Dr. Emily Harrison, a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and Harvard History of Science Department and co-author of the essay “Vaccine Confidence in the Time of COVID-19,” published last April in the European Journal of Epidemiology. “Don’t go into a story assuming you know who is feeling what about the vaccine.”
Don’t assume that all people who are vaccine hesitant are avoiding shots because of misinformation or conspiracy theories, advises Dr. Cindy Prins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida.
“Some who are hesitant are pretty knowledgeable about the vaccines but may need clarification or assurance about something,” she says.
Access to vaccines is another barrier for some people.
“Rather than a perceived moral failure of being ‘hesitant’ or ‘noncompliant,’ a lack of vaccination is often an external reality related to lack of access to vaccines,” the authors write in “Carrying Equity in COVID-19 Vaccination Forward: Guidance Informed by Communities of Color,” a 71-page report published in July by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and authored by members of the CommuniVax coalition.

 

6 tips for covering COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy

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