Africa-based journalists invited to apply for free vaccine course

COVID-19 vaccines are in the spotlight as the world continues to grapple with the coronavirus.

To help journalists understand and report on the complex science behind the vaccines, the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism will host a free 101 course on vaccine science for Africa-based journalists starting on March 8.

This is in partnership with the Centre for Evidence-based Health Care at Stellenbosch University. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until March 7. Both employed and freelance journalists are invited to apply.

Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism’s editor-in-chief Mia Malan said the course will equip journalists to report accurately on COVID-19 vaccines “in the best way possible”.

“For the next year, a significant part of journalist's reporting on COVID will focus on vaccines — how they're developed, how well they work for new variants, how they need to be stored, distributed and procured,” said Malan.

Staggered training

There are four sessions spread over two weeks where attendees will learn about crucial issues linked to vaccines and will also discover more about the African Union's COVID-19 vaccination programme.

“And, of course, also how unequal the distribution of vaccines have been so far and how intellectual property rights and local production capacity interact with that,” Malan added.

The lecturers will include African health experts such as Mary-Ann Davies from South Africa’s Western Cape health department; Charles Shey Wiysonge from South Africa’s National Advisory Group on Immunisation; Hassan Mahomed, Stellenbosch University division of health systems and public health; and Richard Mihigo, World Health Organisation regional office for Africa.

“It's so important that we get it right and that we do the type of reporting that will help not only help to increase the uptake of vaccines but also hold governments accountable for effective implementation policies — and pharmaceutical companies answerable as to why they're not more committed to equitable vaccine distribution,“ Malan said.

Apply for the 101 vaccine course here.

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