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Questions about COVID-19 Vaccines? The Vaccine Media Hub is coming soon

Journalists and fact-checkers around the world will soon have a dedicated support service to help with reporting on COVID-19 vaccines thanks to a global alliance of Science Media Centres and Meedan Digital Health Lab’s public health expert team, supported by the Google News Initiative.

In 2020 Meedan’s Digital Health Lab developed a COVID-19 rapid information response initiative to support our fact-checking and community media partners around the world, as they worked tirelessly to respond to COVID-19 misinformation. We were able to launch the initiative with support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Omidyar Network, and the Google News Initiative. In 2021, Meedan will be expanding the supported range of health topics as part of Health Desk, beginning with the COVID-19 vaccine.

Over the last year, the public health expert team working on Health Desk created a system for providing rapid responses to questions shared by fact-checkers, journalists, and other communicators around the world sharing vital COVID-19 information with different audiences. In response to health questions from fact-checkers and journalists (which you can always submit here, or via email directly to health@meedan.com), our team:

  • Reviews and summarizes the latest science for the topic that you are reporting on
  • Provides background and context for that topic as it relates to health research more generally, and
  • Gives you a list of important additional resources or sources you can review for your reporting or fact-checking

Building off of this work, in partnership with the Australian Science Media Centre and their network of additional Science Media Centres around the world, the COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub will bring together multiple sources of evidence-based information on vaccines with material available in at least seven languages. The alliance will involve collaboration with organisations and experts from Europe, Africa, North America, Latin America and the Asia Pacific region.

“The threat of health misinformation has become a vector for the spread of infectious diseases and in the context of COVID-19, a significant barrier to vaccine adherence. We see a networked approach to addressing information equity challenges as a critical public health need. With the global science community collaborating on providing fact-checkers and media partners with reliable, and time-sensitive health information that communicators can effectively report and respond to the vaccine information needs of their audiences. We are honored to work with the Australian Science Media Centre and their partner Science Media Centres on this critical initiative,” said Nat Gyenes, Director of the Meedan Digital Health Lab.

The media hub will include expert commentary and explainers that will help journalists and fact-checkers report on the science behind the COVID-19 vaccines being developed.

“The COVID-19 vaccine development and roll-out are unprecedented. Fighting misinformation about this topic will require both targeting harmful hoaxes directly and supporting the crucial work of science beat reporters and fact-checkers informing the public. It is with this in mind that we’re thrilled to support the creation of a COVID-19 Vaccine Media Hub to help journalists access expertise rapidly and reliably”, said Alexios Mantzarlis, News and Information Credibility Lead, Google News Lab

“The enormous impact of this pandemic has meant that scientists and pharmaceutical companies have had to go into overdrive to produce vaccines in record time. With so many vaccines in various stages of development, it can be very confusing for journalists and the public and this is where we hope to help,” said Dr Susannah Eliott, CEO of the AusSMC. “It’s now more critical than ever that we all have access to clear information about these vaccines as they are being developed”.

If you’re a fact-checker, journalist, community organizer or communicator working to respond to vaccine misinformation or strengthen vaccine adherence, and you’re interested in collaborating or learning more, please reach out to health@meedan.com, and check out our existing health information resources: https://health-desk.org/, and sign up to receive updates on the launch of the Vaccine Media Hub.

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