Blog Archives

Vaccination Communication Report Authors Highlight Strategies to Reduce Hesitancy

headlines bannerDuring the January 14 COSSA Headlines webinar, Drs. Christine Hunter and Wen-Ying Sylvia Chou, two of the co-authors of the recent National Institutes of Health report on COVID-19 Vaccination Communication           , shared an overview of the report. They also provided a summary of the report’s recommendations that communities can utilize to ensure that messaging about the entire COVID-19 vaccination process relies on evidence-backed strategies. These are available as a one-page tip sheet. A recording of the webinar and the slides are posted to the COSSA website.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 19), Update, Volume 40

NIH Launches New COVID-19 Research Website

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a new website for COVID-19 research information, according to a January 19 blog post by NIH Deputy Director for Extramural Research Mike Lauer. According to Lauer, the website includes key information about the agency’s vaccine and diagnostics programs for COVID-19 as well as searchable information on funded research categorized by state, institution, Congressional district, and other notable fields. The website also includes the latest public-facing information on COVID-19 vaccines and testing, information about participating in clinical trials, and other Federal agency resources on COVID-19. The website is available here.

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Posted in Issue 2 (January 19), Update, Volume 40

NIH Releases Report on COVID-19 Vaccine Communication

A panel of social and behavioral scientists coordinated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has released a report titled “COVID-19 Vaccination Communication: Applying Behavioral and Social Science to Address Vaccine Hesitancy and Foster Vaccine Confidence.” The report, led by the NIH Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the National Cancer Institute (NCI), outlines research-based strategies to communicate the importance of receiving a COVID-19 vaccine while addressing the challenges of vaccine hesitancy and misinformation. The strategies laid out in this report are largely based on the fundamentals of communication research while including specific considerations for individuals at highest risk of contracting the virus such as healthcare workers and older adults.

Some of the strategies included in the report are:

  • Using accurate and transparent messaging without exaggeration;
  • Provoking positive emotions rather than negative emotions in messaging;
  • Corresponding through trusted sources of information to the target audience;
  • Framing vaccination as a social norm;
  • Reaching out early to those that are hesitant about vaccines to help form their views; and
  • Build trust slowly with those who mistrust vaccines through compassion and empathy with the goal to encourage vaccinations in the future.

The report is available on the OBSSR website.

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Posted in Issue 25 (December 22), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Congress Passes Final FY 2021 Funding, COVID Relief, Closing the Books on an Extraordinary Year

After weeks of tense negotiations, Congressional leaders reached an agreement on a coronavirus aid package and legislation to fund the government through the end of fiscal year (FY) 2021. The appropriations agreement largely provides flat funding or modest increases to social science agencies, unsurprising given the strains placed on the federal budget by the pandemic. COSSA will release a full analysis of the funding bills for social science agencies later this week. In the meantime, top-line funding for agencies important to the social and behavioral sciences are provided in the chart below. COSSA’s complete coverage of FY 2021 funding can be found here.

FY 2021 appropriations snapshot

The $900 billion COVID relief package includes direct payments for individuals meeting certain income thresholds, extension of unemployment benefits, support for small business through the Paycheck Protection Program, among many other priorities. Notable for the social science community is $22.7 billion for the Higher Education Relief Emergency fund to help universities defray the costs associated with the pandemic and provide financial assistance to students. In addition, the bill includes $28 million for use through FY 2022 to support pandemic-related costs related to administering the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), administered by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) within the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). NAEP has been postponed amid the educational upheaval caused by the pandemic.

Within the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the agreement provides $8.75 billion in supplemental funding for the CDC for use through FY 2024 to “plan, prepare for, promote, distribute, administer, monitor, and track coronavirus vaccines to ensure broad-based distribution, access, and vaccine coverage.” The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is to receive $1.25 billion for use through FY 2024 to support research and clinical trials related to the long-term effects of COVID-19, as well as continued support for expanding and improving COVID-19 testing.

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Posted in Issue 25 (December 22), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

Congress Works to Close Out Term as Leaders Named for 117th Congress

With time running out before the current continuing resolution (CR) funding the government expires on December 11, Congressional leaders are still working to negotiate a final deal for an omnibus spending package to fully fund the government for the remainder of fiscal year (FY) 2021. Reportedly, appropriators have reached an agreement on the top-line funding levels for the various appropriations bills (see COSSA’s analyses of the House and Senate proposals). The main obstacle appears to disagreement be on the size and composition of an additional COVID-19 relief funding package, which would be attached to one of the appropriations bills to ensure passage. Although appropriators have reaffirmed their commitments to the December 11 deadline, they may pass an additional CR to give themselves additional time to wrap up spending. However, time before the end of the session is running out, particularly if Members hope to set aside time to quarantine ahead of returning home to their families for the Christmas holiday.

In the meantime, House Democrats have named leaders of several key committees important to the social sciences. The House majority selected Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) to take the helm of the House Appropriations Committee, replacing Nita Lowey (D-NY), who is retiring at the end of this year. Rep. DeLauro is a senior appropriator and current chair of Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS). During her tenure on the Labor-HHS subcommittee, DeLauro has been a big supporter of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and health research. In addition, Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX), a longtime champion of the social sciences, was unanimously re-elected to serve as Chair of the House Science, Space, and Technology Subcommittee, which oversees the National Science Foundation. Control of the Senate still depends on the results of the upcoming Georgia runoff elections. COSSA will continue to report on additional Committee appointments important to the social sciences as they are announced.

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Posted in Issue 24 (December 8), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

“Why Social Science” Can Help Us Combat Pandemic Fatigue

why-social-scienceThe latest Why Social Science? post comes Jay Maddock, professor of public health at Texas A&M University, who wrote for The Conversation about what social science can tell us about pandemic fatigue— and how we can mitigate it. Read it here and subscribe.

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Posted in Issue 23 (November 24), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

AAPSS Seminar Highlights Pandemic’s Impact on Working Families

The American Academy of Political and Social Science (AAPSS), a COSSA member, held a virtual seminar on October 29 convening a panel of experts to discuss “Working Parents in COVID-19: The Impact and the Policy Response.” The panel was moderated by Isabel Sawhill, Brookings Institution, and featured presentations by Michal Grinstein-Wiess, Washington University in St. Louis; Molly Kinder, Brookings Institution; Claudia Goldin, Harvard University; and Nisha Patel, Washington University in St. Louis. Panelists discussed the unique impacts of the pandemic on economically vulnerable working families and potential policy solutions that could assist these families’ recovery. A recording of the webcast is available here and more information is available on the AAPSS website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 10), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

NIH Seeking Comments on Agency-Wide Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research

On October 28, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) released a request for information (RFI) to gather public input on the NIH-Wide Strategic Plan for COVID-19 Research released in July (see previous COSSA coverage for more details). As the coronavirus pandemic persists, NIH acknowledges that the framework in the Strategic Plan should be updated periodically to meet the needs of the research community in addressing the pandemic. NIH is seeking comments related to the following topics:

  • Significant research gaps or barriers not currently identified in the Strategic Plan;
  • Resources required or lacking that could advance the priorities in the Strategic Plan, or ways to leverage existing resources;
  • Emerging scientific advances in COVID-19 treatment or vaccine research; and
  • Additional ideas for research initiatives that could advance the response to COVID-19.

Responses to the RFI will be accepted through December 7, 2020. More information is available on the NIH website.

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Posted in Issue 22 (November 10), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

AAAS Forum Focuses on COVID Impacts, Systemic Racism in Science

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held its annual Science & Technology Policy Forum in a virtual format on October 13-14. The forum featured two days of panels and lectures focused on pressing policy issues facing the sciences. The majority of the first day’s sessions focused on how COVID-19 has impacted science and innovation, the essential role science has played in responding to the pandemic, and lessons that can be drawn from this experience to strengthen the science and technology enterprise going forward. The second day featured a number of sessions on confronting the dark history of racism in science as well as present inequities that continue to persist for people of color working in the sciences. Presenters identified ways the scientific community can move forward to earn back lost trust and to make the scientific enterprise a more equitable endeavor. More information on the sessions is available on the AAAS website, where recordings will be posted.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 27), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

CNSF Hosts Congressional Briefing on Undergraduate Learning During COVID-19

On October 22, the Coalition for National Science Funding (CNSF), of which COSSA is a member, hosted a virtual briefing for Congressional staffers on undergraduate learning during COVID-19 and how funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) can address gaps in learning. The briefing featured presentations from Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology at North Carolina A&T State University Adrienne Aiken Morgan and Assistant Vice Chancellor for Digital Innovation and Enterprise Learning at Northeastern University Kemi Jona. In addition, brief remarks were offered by Representatives G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) and Katherine Clark (D-CA). The briefing was moderated by Associate Executive Director of the American Mathematical Society Karen Saxe.

The presentations covered a wide range of relevant issues including the transition of education to remote learning, the importance of virtual internships, differences in equity and access for those seeking virtual internships, lessons learned from the current pandemic that can impact future crises, the role of mental health in affecting learning ability, and how remote learning affects historically Black colleges and universities differently than other institutions. In addition, the presenters highlighted social science as especially useful in informing policy changes to improve learning behaviors. A recording of the briefing will be posted by CNSF when available.

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Posted in Issue 21 (October 27), Update, Volume 39 (2020)

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