Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people didn’t spend as much time thinking about a news report about an emerging or reemerging disease popping up in another part of the world—or even in our own country. But now, that news feels different, more consequential. In this new era, where global media attention has turned to epidemiology and infectious disease, how do we understand our situation and feel protected when it seems like we’re hearing about so many diseases all the time?
Generally speaking, giving unsolicited advice to people only tends to annoy them and make them less likely to change any of their behaviors. Real change tends to come when someone sees a discrepancy between their own behavior and what they value as a person. So, how do you talk to a coworker, friend, or family member who is firmly entrenched in anti-vaccine beliefs? Preaching to them that COVID vaccines are safe and effective will most likely fail. But there are some lessons to be gleaned from a counseling style called motivational interviewing, where instead of trying to persuade someone, you subtly reflect back to them their own thoughts and feelings. In other words, you allow the other person to drive the conversation, with the idea that they themselves will see discrepancies between their actions and their beliefs. University of Michigan School of Public Health Professor Ken Resnicow has studied and used motivational interviewing since the early 1990s and has some timely tips for how to engage in these difficult conversations.
Right now, Delta is the dominant COVID-19 variant spreading here in the U.S and in some other areas of the world. It’s one of the handful of variants that have evolved from the original COVID-19 virus. The emergence of the more infectious Delta, and the prospect of new variants on the horizon, has underscored the urgency of widespread vaccination to put an end to the pandemic. In this episode, we're joined by two faculty experts from the University of Michigan who will discuss what is currently known about the Delta variant, how vaccine efforts are holding up through the Delta surge, and how it's spread is impacting our ongoing pandemic response strategies.
In the last few months, we have seen emergency usage authorization of the Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines. With more and more people receiving vaccines each day, things seem to be looking up. But many still feel unsure about receiving a COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them. In this episode, we explore a term you may be hearing a lot these days: vaccine hesitancy. With two faculty experts from the University of Michigan, we’ll dig into some history around vaccine hesitancy and how it relates to this pandemic.
Infectious disease expert Arnold Monto discusses the safety and efficacy of the COVID-19 vaccines. Monto has been involved in pandemic planning and emergency response to influenza and other respiratory virus outbreaks, including the 1968 Hong Kong influenza pandemic, Avian Influenza, SARS, MERS and the COVID-19 pandemic. He serves as acting chair of the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, which provides advice to the Food and Drug Administration on the authorization and licensure of vaccines to prevent COVID-19.
When public health is working, nothing happens; people don't get sick or hurt or die, and in a way, public health, at it's very best, is invisible. This week, we're talking about one function of public health that embodies that idea — vaccines. When vaccination works the way it's intended to, nothing happens, diseases like polio seem to disappear. But are they really gone or is it just public health at work?