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Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas

Covering the COVID-19 vaccine: What journalists need to know

Knight Center for Journalism in the Americas and The University of Texas at Austin via Independent

Overview

In this four-week course, attendees will review how vaccines were achieved against Covid-19, examine the efficacy of the different vaccine formulas, analyze plans for distributing the vaccines, and investigate the complexity of overcoming both vaccine hesitancy and mis- and disinformation. Participants will learn from scientific experts, other journalists, and staff from international agencies such as the World Health Organization regarding key things to know to begin or continue covering the vaccine campaign, and will come away with an extensive menu of tips and recommendations for doing their own stories, no matter their experience or beats. The course will provide journalists with tools to dispel disinformation, misinformation and myths created around the COVID-19 vaccines.

Syllabus

Introduction Module: Course Description

This module will provide an overview of the course and the topic, some initial readings, and includes this syllabus, a promo video and a welcome video explaining what students will learn week to week.

Module 1: Vaccines are here: Now what?

This module will cover the different vaccines that have been licensed to date around the world, and the many candidate vaccines still in the pipeline, explaining how their underlying technologies differ. We will review clinical trial data and identify sources of information regarding the vaccines, and explain the different logistical challenges of delivering them.

Module 2: When will vaccines arrive?

This module will examine how vaccine delivery has unfolded in the countries that have already begun vaccination, and will explore predictions for when other countries will receive their own vaccines. It will scrutinize the risk of “vaccine nationalism” and hoarding as well as explain international plans to ensure that developing-economy countries receive their fair share.

Module 3: How can we trust the vaccines?

This module will distinguish between vaccine hesitancy and anti-vaccination activism and discuss the reasonable concerns of minority groups and nations who in the past have been victimized by unethical research practices. It will examine the rise of misinformation and weaponized disinformation against the vaccines and explore resources for debunking false claims and encouraging trust.

Module 4: After vaccination, what is the future?

This module will examine predictions for how long it will take to achieve population immunity and to what degree societies will need to persist with masks and social distancing. It will examine the risks of emerging viral variants and explore what ongoing response will be needed if SARS CoV-2 becomes an endemic infection.

 

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