Credit: Arek Socha from Pixabay

Providing unrealistic hope on the potential success of covid-19 vaccines, whilst ignoring the challenges scientists are currently facing, can give your readers false certainty and contribute to the pandemic of misinformation.

To help you correctly report on this topic, Kerry Dooley Young asked several vaccine experts for guidance in this article published by Journalist’s Resource.

One of the most important things for reporters to understand is what the various levels of clinical trials can and cannot offer - for example, that the Phase 1 trial does not reveal much about the effectiveness of vaccines - as well as being aware that press releases are not as factually useful as articles published in scientific journals.

Journalists also need to be transparent about the side effect that trial participants may experience, which may help reduce the social media backlash once people start complaining about how they feel after receiving the vaccine.

The article also advises reporters to mention the patient demographics used to test vaccines and to be honest about the challenges the new approaches present, especially because of the speed at which they are being developed.

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