The Yellow Fever Outbreak in Brazil Communication and Outreach Team (YFOBCOT) was appointed by CDC to inform global audiences on the state of Brazilian public health in regards to a Yellow Fever outbreak in 2018. Please read about the experience below: a Q+A with Karna staff member and CDC Public Affairs specialist Rosa Norman.
Q: Why was the YFOBCOT formed?
A: In March 2018, CDC updated its Yellow Fever in Brazil Travel Notice, supported by an MMWR special issue article (released March 16 2018), to highlight that the outbreak had spread near popular tourist destinations, that a number of unvaccinated travelers had contracted the disease (some of whom had died), and that the list of areas where yellow fever vaccination was recommended had expanded for travelers to Brazil. CDC also emphasized the need for travelers to plan ahead for vaccination due to limited vaccine availability in the United States, and recommended that unvaccinated travelers not travel to areas where the vaccine is recommended.
Q: What was your involvement on the team?
A: I helped develop talking points and Q&As for the yellow fever rollout plan and provided edits and feedback on the telebriefing script and other media materials. As CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine’s (DGMQ) Media Lead, I coordinated with the Travelers’ Health (TH) Branch, Center (NCEZID), and the Office of Associate Director for Communication (OADC) colleagues to respond to media inquiries regarding the outbreak.
Q: What were the team goals?
A: The goal of the program was to alert the public about an expanding number of hot spots in Brazil where yellow fever virus is being transmitted. Vaccine is the best way to prevent yellow fever. CDC wanted to emphasize that people who have never been vaccinated against yellow fever should not travel to areas of Brazil affected by the outbreak without the protective benefits of the yellow fever vaccine. And, due to limited vaccine availability in the United States, travelers needed to plan ahead for yellow fever vaccination.