Dr. Ellen Eaton: Reading, watching, listening on COVID vaccines and teens

Recently, COVID vaccines were approved for children ages 12 and up. Vaccines for younger children are under evaluation in clinical trials. But even for infectious disease experts, the amount of information available to parents about COVID vaccines can be overwhelming. 

Dr. Ellen Eaton is assistant professor at the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She treats COVID-19 patients, speaks often to the press about COVID precautions, and is herself a mother. 

Following nationally recognized public health experts on Twitter helps her think critically about balancing COVID risks without being too stringent. 

“At times, I overcorrect my own behaviors and am more risk-averse than science says that I need to be, because I am biased,” Eaton said. Seeing people on ventilators, young moms like myself very ill with COVID, makes me want to wear an N95 (mask) to the grocery store. 

So coming back to objective data from these national experts helps me re-center when I leave the hospital, and remind myself that I am vaccinated and that means I am virtually immune to the outcomes I am seeing in my patients.” 

This week, Eaton shared with Reckon what she’s currently reading, watching and listening to when it comes to getting accurate information on COVID vaccines for teens and kids. 

What Dr. Eaton is reading (on Twitter): 

A few of her favorite doctors and public health experts to follow:

Dr. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration 
Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University School of Public Health
Carlos del Rio, infectious disease expert and associate dean for Emory University at Grady
Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 

“Following experts in public health allows me to quickly catch up on the data and policy changes in brief breaks between patients and meetings,” said Eaton.  

“I have also followed a lot of the op-eds in the Atlantic, the New York Times, and even Vox. They have provided data-driven summaries, especially around kids and schools, and a platform for some of the epidemiologists I trust the most, like Dr. Julia Marcus, (associate professor) at Harvard. Medical School.” 

What Dr. Eaton is watching: 

Dr. Rob Swanda’s “Making Science Accessible” YouTube channel 

“I generally avoid (YouTube) channels because many non-experts have used them to share anti-science media, and it frankly makes my head hurt,” Eaton said. 

“But I love and often recommend Dr. Rob Swanda’s easy to follow tutorials on vaccines and immunity. He is a biochemistry Ph.D candidate at Cornell and has a real gift of translating complex topics into short 2-3 minute clips. 

What Dr. Eaton is listening to: 

NPR One podcast 

“I love NPR One podcasts in the morning for updates on COVID nationally and globally,” says Eaton. “It’s on demand, so I can listen at 5 a.m. or 5 p.m. for a quick update. It’s just the right amount of detail, a big picture update on trends and geography without getting me distracted by the details.” 

The Reckon Report.
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