Suggested interview questions: COVID-19 vaccine information and preventative measures


Notes to broadcasters

These questions are designed to help broadcasters conduct interviews with COVID-19 experts such as doctors, nurses, community health workers, and representatives from health ministries. The questions are designed to help broadcasters air informative programs on the development of COVID-19 vaccines, the efficacy of those vaccines, their possible side effects, and the measures to follow after vaccination to continue to prevent COVID-19 infection.

When planning your interview, it’s a good idea to pick three to five of the numbered themes to discuss with your interviewee(s). Ask some or all of the follow-up questions to explore the themes thoroughly and give your audience the information they need. Limiting the scope of the interview will ensure that neither your listeners nor your guests get overloaded with information and stop paying attention.

If you want to cover more details about this topic, arrange a series of interviews with one guest or with others who can speak on the issue. And remember that good interviews are based on active listening and good follow-up questions. Use these questions as a guide to your discussion but be flexible enough to follow the discussion where it leads.

Important myths and misinformation could be brought up during these discussions. Be sure to address and dispel these with your guest, as well as other myths that are prominent in your community.

Finally, the information that comes up during your discussion about COVID-19 vaccines might be technical and scientific. Always ask your interviewee(s) to explain technical concepts in clear and simple terms that any listener can understand. If any guest uses a complicated or technical term, ask them to explain it—even if you understand, your listeners may not.


1. Why were vaccines developed to address COVID-19 rather than conventional cures such as oral medications?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. Is a vaccine easier or faster to develop than medication?

a.i.1. How long did it take to develop the COVID-19 vaccine?

a.i.1.a. How was the COVID-19 vaccine developed so quickly?

a.ii. Are there currently any medications available that can treat or prevent COVID-19?

a.ii.1. If yes, are they available in this area?
a.ii.2. If not, do you think that such medications will be available in the near future?

2. What are the benefits of getting vaccinated against COVID-19?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. Is it riskier to get infected with COVID-19 or to get the COVID-19 vaccine? Explain.

3. How does the COVID-19 vaccine protect people against COVID-19?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. How effective is the vaccine at preventing hospitalization, severe illness, or death from COVID-19?
a.ii. How effective is the vaccine at protecting people from getting infected with COVID-19?
a.iii. How long does protection from the COVID-19 vaccine last?
a.iv. I have heard that some people get sick with COVID-19 even after being vaccinated. Why is this?
a.v. Is the COVID-19 vaccine effective against all COVID-19 variants—for example, the delta and omicron variants? Can I take the COVID-19 vaccine if I am currently infected with COVID-19? Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine if I have had COVID-19 in the past and I’m recovered now? Some people are wondering whether being infected with COVID-19 in the past makes them immune to getting COVID-19 in the future. Is that true? Should someone who has had COVID-19 still get vaccinated?

a.vii. Is one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine enough or do I need more than one?

a.vii.1. If I need more than one dose, how long after my first dose should I get the second?
a.vii.2. What are booster shots?

a.vii.2.a. Who should get booster shots?
a.vii.2.b. When should I get a booster shot?
a.vii.2.c. Are booster shots available in this area?

4. There are several different COVID-19 vaccines available, each produced by a different company. How should someone choose which COVID-19 vaccine to take?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. Does getting the COVID-19 vaccine cost anything?
a.ii. Where can listeners find their local vaccination centre?

5. Are there illnesses or medical conditions that make it unsafe for someone to get the COVID-19 vaccine?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. Is it safe for pregnant women to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
a.ii. Is it safe for breastfeeding women to get the COVID-19 vaccine?
a.iii. What are the possible side effects after getting a COVID-19 vaccine?

a.iii.1. Are any of these side-effects long-lasting?
a.iii.2. If I don’t have any side effects, does that mean that the vaccine didn’t work?
a.iii.3. Are the side effects different for each brand of COVID-19 vaccine?

a.iv. There are myths circulating in our community about the COVID-19 vaccine. What myths have you heard, and can you please dispel them for us?

a.iv.1. Some people are worried about the COVID-19 vaccines affecting male fertility, or women’s ability to have children. Is there any truth to these concerns?

6. Will the COVID-19 vaccine infect me with COVID-19?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. There are reports of deaths happening after COVID-19 vaccination. What is your comment on those reported deaths?
a.ii. Is the COVID-19 vaccine safe for all age groups, including people over 65?
a.iii. Is it safe for children and adolescents to get vaccinated against COVID-19?
a.iv. Can the COVID-19 vaccine be taken when someoneis taking other medications or treatments for medical conditions?

7. Some people are skeptical about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, especially because of how quickly they were developed or because of media reports doubting their effectiveness. How can you reassure them about the safety of the COVID-19 vaccines?

8. What does the future look like for COVID-19 and COVID-19 vaccines?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. Will we continue to need COVID-19 vaccines in the future?
a.ii. Are there specific months or seasons when people will need to be vaccinated? For example, in colder months when the cold and flu are common?

9. In addition to getting vaccinated, what practical measures can individuals and communities take to protect themselves from being infected with COVID-19?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. What kind of face coverings are effective at protecting people from being infected with COVID-19 and infecting others?
a.ii. If I wear a disposable face mask, can I wear it tomorrow or for a certain number of days, or can I wear it only once?
a.iii. How much physical distance should be maintained between people in enclosed spaces like rooms and inside compounds to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
a.iv. How frequently should people wash their hands to prevent COVID-19 infections?
a.v. After being vaccinated, do I still need to practice these precautions? If so, why?

a.v.1. How long will we need to continue to wear masks, maintain physical distance, and use other precautions? Can eating healthy and exercising help prevent COVID-19 infections?

10. Are there illnesses or medical conditions that make people more vulnerable to getting infected with COVID-19?

a. Follow up questions:

a.i. If so, what are these medical conditions?
a.ii. Why do they make people more vulnerable?
a.iii. Are there specific measures that people with these illnesses or conditions need to take in order to prevent themselves from becoming ill with COVID-19?
a.iv. When someone with one of these conditions becomes ill with COVID-19, how does it affect them differently than someone without an underlying condition?
a.v. How can we help protect people who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19? Is it safe for people with these conditions or illnesses to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

11. Why is it important for as many people as possible to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

a. Follow-up questions:

a.i. Is there anything you would like to say to listeners who are hesitant or worried about the COVID-19 vaccine?


Contributed by: James Karuga, journalist, Kenya.

This resource was developed thanks to funding by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada as part of the Life-saving Public Health and Vaccine Communication at Scale in sub-Saharan Africa (or VACS) project.