During COVID-19, journalists have needed to digest complex, and often unfamiliar, public health information and evidence-based research to provide clear and factual reporting for their communities. They have also been tasked with combating the spread of dis- and misinformation, which the World Health Organization identified as a priority to ensure vaccine acceptance and to control the pandemic. The COVID vaccine rollout continues to expose stark inequalities – only 23% of people over age 60 and 37% of health workers in low-income countries have received COVID vaccines – and the WHO and UNICEF reported the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years.
In this context, the IWMF will offer its Global Health Reporting Initiative (GHRI), focused on vaccines and immunization, for a second generation of journalists in Africa and Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) member countries. Established with the support of the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Immunization Advocates program, this 9-month, virtual fellowship will take place from October 2022 through June 2023.
The IWMF will select a total of 30 journalists in Africa and CARPHA member countries in the Caribbean to participate in our GHRI. Beginning in October 2022, our cohort will participate in an online, English-language course that will provide access to sources who are public health and science-related experts on vaccines, public health, trade, social and behavioral communications, and global health policy. At the end of the course, in February 2023, the IWMF will award competitive reporting grants to support the production of in-depth, fact-based, high-quality reporting on vaccines, especially regarding issues of vaccine acceptance and demand. Journalists who are awarded a reporting grant will be mentored by a senior public health or science reporter. The GHRI will enable journalists to better inform public health influencers and communities about vaccines.
In 2021, the IWMF previously trained 30 journalists in Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. The first generation of GHRI fellows were trained by Esther Nakkazi in Africa and Fabiola Torres in Latin America and the Caribbean. Click here to read their reporting on vaccines and immunization.
Header photo by Mariana Souquett