Outbreak Risk Communication: The Role of the Media

Invited presentation to the International Society for Influenza and other Respiratory Virus Diseases-World Health Organization virtual conference on “COVID-19, Influenza, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV): Surveillance-informed Prevention and Treatment.”

Abstract: As a result of the real and potential harm they bring, infectious disease outbreaks often attract, as well as benefit from, news media attention and coverage.Some infectious disease outbreaks, as well as public health responses and recommendations, receive significant and ongoing attention, while others receive relatively little media attention and coverage. However, it is usually the case that public health agencies, medical and scientific entities, and individuals involved in preparing for and responding to respiratory infectious disease outbreaks will need to proactively and reactively engage with the media. Using examples from influenza, RVS, and COVID-19, this presentation overviewed the major roles that media, particularly news media, play when it comes to infectious disease outbreaks. The overview included highlighting how those roles intersect with public health efforts, particularly those involving recommendations, policies, and communication.

Glen Nowak 

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