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Doctors tell AP of rampant misinformation among unvaccinated

Medical staff tend to a patient with coronavirus, on a COVID-19 ward inside the Willis-Knighton Medical Center in Shreveport, La., Aug. 18, 2021. The hospital in northwestern Louisiana thought the COVID-19 pandemic was letting up; then came the surge of the delta variant. (AP Photo / Gerald Herbert)

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Heather Hollingsworth, based in Kansas City, Missouri, tapped into her deep network of sourcing among doctors around the country to deliver an all-formats story that offered new perspective on the rampant misinformation that they’re experiencing in dealing with unvaccinated patients during the delta surge of COVID-19.

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Dr. Vincent Shaw poses for a portrait in Baton Rouge, La., Sept. 29, 2021. He commonly hears patients tell him there hasn’t been enough research on the COVID-19 vaccines. – AP Photo / Dorthy Ray

Hollingsworth conducted interviews with six doctors,each giving new examples of the misinformation that has underpinned the recent surge. One doctor,for example,said he had resorted to showing vaccine-hesitant patients a Twinkie ingredient label to make the point that it’s hard for anyone to fully understand every item that goes into federally approved food and drugs. Hollingworth did all the interviews on Zoom and teamed up with AP Central Region video journalist Carrie Antlfinger on packaged video pieces. She also shared sound clips with the audio and digital teams; those were embedded in the piece.

The story generated strong play and huge reader engagement numbers. It was a shining example of how deep sourcing on a newsworthy topic can lead to a sharply focused, well-executed story.

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