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September 23, 2021

Daily News Lesson: U.S. plan to share Pfizer shots globally ‘too little and too late,’ ex-CDC director says

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Directions: Read the summary, watch the video and answer the discussion questions. Some students may find it easier to read along with the transcript or turn on closed captions/CC.

Summary: The Biden administration announced Wednesday that the U.S. was purchasing an additional 500 million Pfizer COVID vaccines to donate to other nations. The move is what critics and organizations like the WHO have been calling for — a much more robust effort on behalf of rich countries. Yet some are saying this still isn’t enough, including  Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC.

Discussion questions: 

Warm up questions: Have your students identify the 5Ws and an H:

  • Who is interviewed in this piece and what is his background?
  • What are some of the consequences of leaving much of the world’s population unvaccinated?
  • When did the U.S. begin distributing Pfizer and other vaccines around the world?
  • Why has the rollout of vaccine donations been too slow, according to Frieden?
  • How many doses of vaccine have been donated overseas already, according to this piece?

Focus questions:

  1. One of the other potential priorities for vaccine doses is booster shots to renew protection for people who were already fully vaccinated at the start of the year. Though some data suggests boosters might help some people, the FDA does not yet recommend them for the general population. If vaccine doses are limited, do you think priority should go to international donations or boosters for the already vaccinated in the U.S.? Why do you think so?
  2. What are some of the risks associated with a slow global vaccination rollout, according to Dr. Frieden? What do you think would be some of the benefits to U.S. interests if more of the world was vaccinated?

Media literacy: Who might have a different opinion about vaccine distribution priorities than Dr. Frieden? Who else might you want to hear from?

Additional resources:

  • Dr. Frieden suggests here that vaccination rates around the world could speed up if vaccine patent holders like Pfizer and Moderna allowed other countries to manufacture their vaccines. To understand the debate around the vaccines and intellectual property, see this lesson.
  • See this lesson about other Biden administration efforts to increase vaccination in the U.S., including encouraging employer vaccination requirements.

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