Internews, with financial support from the Sabin Vaccine Institute, provided between June and July 2023 a handful of media fellowships to encourage journalists from India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar to communicate more effectively about COVID-19 vaccinations and also provide accurate information on the effectiveness of HPV vaccines in preventing cervical cancer. Journalists were able to study how the COVID-19 outbreak has impacted routine childhood vaccines in communities with the assistance of these fellowships. A total of 15 fellowships – 12 in English and 3 in Hindi – were awarded from 35 applications. Two fellowships were exclusively for HPV reporting. You can find them here. To be eligible for the media fellowships, applicants had to complete either Let’s Talk Vaccines – English or Let’s Talk Vaccines – Hindi at the date of submission. Below are a selection of the COVID-19 vaccine stories that were produced with support from the Sabin Institute.
In Myanmar, COVID-19 vaccination started in 2021, but many people remain unvaccinated due to the current political instability. This story focuses on children in Chin State. Because of restrictions placed by the military junta, it is very difficult to vaccinate children in this region. Vaccine hesitancy is also on the rise, partially due to scarcity of vaccines. Original language.
This article by Moudud Sujan (@MoududSujan) highlights the vital role of health assistants across Bangladesh, especially in child immunization campaigns. Despite their essential role during the pandemic, they have yet to receive a pay raise. The government has made the pay raise contingent upon the completion of a two-year technical diploma degree. Read more.
Transgender people in Bangladesh have had a much harder time getting the COVID-19 vaccine during the pandemic, and even now. In this important article for News Now Bangla, reporter Farhana Nila (@farhananila4) documents the plight of trans people who are invisible in government statistics on access to vaccines and their challenges in accessing basic health care services. Read full story.
In this follow up article for News Now Bangla, reporter Farhana Nila (@farahananila4), dives deeper into the reasons why some transgender people in Bangladesh remain hesitant of taking the COVID-19 vaccine. Mistrust is also fueled by the fact that trans people did not take part in clinical trials. Read more.
In this third and final story for the News Now Bangla media outlet, reporter Farhana Nila (@farhananila4) explores the role of volunteers – including journalists – who felt compelled to serve the health needs of transgender people in Bangladesh, especially during the pandemic. Read full story.
In this article reporter Tanka Dhakal (@tankadhakal) documents the well-coordinated COVID-19 vaccination campaign in Nepal despite the many distribution challenges due to difficult road conditions, lack of cold chains for vaccines in remote mountain areas, and poor internet connectivity. Read full story.
The indiscriminate use of antibiotics is creating drug resistant bacteria and making it harder to cure common diseases such as typhoid. Vaccinating children is the best way to keep them healthy and avoid the spread of “superbugs,” say health experts in Pakistan where drug resistant typhoid is on the rise. Well-researched piece by Zofeen Ebrahim for Inter Press Service. Read full story.
The Pakistan Health Department has said vaccination of the residents against the novel coronavirus will continue even though the World Health Organization has declared that COVID-19 is no longer a public health emergency. Reporter Mohammed Ashfaq (@m__ashfaq) writes about the government’s efforts to ensure that everyone gets vaccinated. Read full story.
One month after the launch of the Let’s Talk Vaccines online course (it was launched in May 2021) for journalists, we initiated a story challenge around this important topic. We asked HJN members to pitch us compelling ideas on issues related to vaccine science, access, logistics and confidence. In exchange, we offered them a small grant. We wanted to hear new ideas about covering vaccines in different parts of the world. We received hundreds of pitches and selected a total of 32 based on a set of criteria, that include originality, focus, clarity, impact, and diversity. Many of the grant winners produced one or more stories in the language of their audiences. What we present below are some of the final products that came through in English, as well as links to stories in the original language, accompanied by a short summary in English. The features are NOT listed in any special order. Whenever possible, and if appropriate, we also include the journalist’s Twitter account so you can follow, tag and offer them some love! (This page was compiled by Bea Spadacini.)