In the month of July, as a follow up to our Let’s Talk Vaccines online course for journalists, we launched a call for potential vaccine stories. After receiving more than 200 story pitches from around the world, we selected 32 winning pitches. For the most part, they fall under the four course pillars: access, confidence, science, and logistics. Some are cross-cutting. All are thought-provoking and have the potential to contribute to a much better understanding of how vaccines work, their evolution, and how people perceive them.
Fueled by disinformation around the COVID-19 vaccines, perhaps it is not surprising that most of the story pitches we received fall under the “confidence” category. One idea we received seeks to investigate people’s attitudes towards the Chinese-made vaccine in a country neighboring China. Other story pitches include personal accounts on overcoming COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy because of underlying health conditions such as asthma or sickle cell anemia, and a testimonial from a health worker who decided to get vaccinated but had to push back against the skepticism of his own colleagues.
The science pitches primarily focus on the history of vaccines and how these have been especially lifesaving in certain parts of the world, while the logistics pitches address how national governments are rolling out vaccines, poor planning, and common mistakes made that—among other factors—drive hesitancy. Access pitches offer concrete examples of unequal access to vaccines and the reasons behind them—including remote locations where the transportation and storage of vaccines can be particularly challenging.
This vaccine story production challenge highlights the creative thinking of our members and their commitment to document the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out (or lack of it) in their own communities. We want to thank all applicants who entered a story pitch and took time to do so. Don’t give up and keep on trying. There will be other opportunities. In the meantime, congratulations to our winners whose stories you will read or hear in the coming months.