How are barbershops helping to tackle vaccine hesitancy? The University of Maryland’s Center for Health Equity Director Stephen Thomas has researched the trust placed in barbers and hair stylists and has been training them to educate their clients about preventing diseases like diabetes, and now about the importance of COVID-19 vaccines.

I have found it to be a useful resource to provide a quick snapshot of the latest headlines or recent developments to then inform which topics I’d like to read more about.

This fascinating story about the power of trust within communities is just one of many stories covered in Scientific American’s COVID, Quickly podcast series. Each episode looks at a range of topics, covering anything from vaccine hesitancy and the rising risks of variants to long COVID and vaccine distribution in under 10 minutes.

The constant stream of COVID-19-related headlines and social media posts can quickly become an overwhelming torrent. Even the official guidance can become confusing, so the presenters, senior health editors Tanya Lewis and Josh Fischman, have made it their mission to condense the guidelines and demystify some of the main sources of vaccine misinformation.

Their coverage of things like safety measures and policies is naturally US-centric so not entirely relevant to all listeners, but their analysis often is. For example, the debate on whether to wear masks inside is mostly based on guidance from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) but the information provided about the benefits of wearing a mask is universal.

Although the subject matter is often difficult to confront, for example, in episode 7 the hosts address an impending “pandemic grief wave” following the high levels of COVID-related fatalities, the format and style just provides a quick summary and leaves it up to you to decide whether you’d like to delve deeper. They often reference articles that can be found on trusted sources of information, including Scientific American, so you can continue your research.

I have found it to be a useful resource to provide a quick snapshot of the latest headlines or recent developments to then inform which topics I’d like to read more about. The conversational style feels like a natural replication of the conversations that have dominated many of my social gatherings throughout the pandemic, so it gives insights into how to navigate and discuss controversial topics like mask mandates. It’s also an easy option to recommend to friends as it’s free and covers such a broad range of issues.

COVID, Quickly podcast episodes are released fortnightly and can be found by subscribing to the 60-Second science series.

TOPICS: Book clubCOVID-19

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