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Key Insights from Sabin 2020-2021 Grant Partners Inform Action, Investment in Vaccine Acceptance

The past several months has seen the delivery of final project reporting from the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s 2020-2021 Social and Behavioral Research Grants Program partners. Multidisciplinary teams from five countries were awarded funding to explore the social drivers of COVID-19 misinformation and its impact on both routine immunization acceptance and the acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. With the completion of these projects in December 2021, key insights have begun to surface, providing an opportunity to review effective approaches towards combatting misinformation and increasing vaccine confidence and acceptance in low- and middle-income countries.

The cover of Community-led Strategies to Aid Vaccine Acceptance: Five Case Studies from the Global SouthOur initial case-study report, Community-led Strategies to Aid Vaccine Acceptance: Five Case Studies from the Global South, has been compiled to inform action and investment around the globe that seek to build more vaccine confident communities. The grant partners featured in the report represent multidisciplinary teams from Mewat, India; Trans-Nzoia County, Kenya; Sindh Province, Pakistan; and the Kambia District, Sierra Leone. Together, research teams and communities designed interventions employing a range of strategies including digital and social media messaging to increase vaccine literacy, as well as participatory research to equip and empower community health workers and community influencers to dispel rumors and strengthen trust between patients and providers.

As a primer for decision-makers, this case study report summarizes commonalities across the effective interventions and highlights the emerging themes and community action which influenced policies, programs and practice across the featured projects. The report details the individual design, approaches and implementation stages and strategies of the five individual projects. These case-study exemplars serve to:

  • Provide researchers and program implementers in low- and middle-income countries with blueprints of successful research methodologies and approaches for piloting and evaluating strategies to increase vaccine confidence and acceptance in their communities, and
  • Demonstrate the value of inclusion of these types of approaches and perspectives to sub-national, national and global funders, policymakers and decision-makers

Building trust in vaccines requires an understanding of the unique social, cultural, political and economic dimensions of vaccination anxieties, avoidance and refusal. The complexity of the behavioral dynamics driving vaccine acceptance has inspired calls for social science perspectives to understand and address the challenges across local- and national-level settings. Growing investments to support on-the-ground research and implementation are needed among diverse regions to inform community-appropriate interventions.

We are proud to share such outstanding work from our partners across the globe, and collaboratively, we will continue to demonstrate the value of community-centric approaches for generating localized solutions.

Meet our Research Partner Cohort

To learn more about our Social and Behavioral Grant Partners and related projects from 2019 to present day, explore our new resource page. Here, you can find partner information, peer-reviewed publications and other resources highlighting their work. We encourage you to peruse their research and join in the discourse!

The diverse and interdisciplinary makeup of our research teams is reflected in both their focus areas and regional settings of research. To date, our grant partners have conducted research across 33 unique, local communities, ranging from Panajachel, Guatemala, to villages within the Buikwe District of Uganda to Sarlahi District, Nepal. The localized knowledge produced by our grant partners is invaluable in shaping global vaccine acceptance and demand discourse and setting the research agenda for the field. Our partners performed their essential research within the context of their unique localities, proving that one size does not fit all when it comes to vaccine acceptance and demonstrating the necessity of grassroots research in this field.

On our resource page, you can explore areas of vaccine acceptance and demand research with focus areas including, but not limited to:

  • Messaging appeals to increase vaccine confidence
  • Understanding the impact the COVID-19 pandemic has had on routine immunization
  •  Strategies to support historically marginalized populations
  •  Community co-designed health interventions

Our grant partners contributions to the field of vaccine acceptance goes beyond their collaborative efforts with Sabin, and many of these experts actively participate in global conversations on various social media platforms. We have included additional peer-reviewed publications, as well as their social media handles within our resource page. Stay informed by reading through their research on our resource page and join in the discussion on social media.

Another way you can tune in and remain involved with the dialogue is to join our Vaccination Acceptance Research Network (VARN) as a member and sign up to receive our quarterly VARN newsletter. The VARN is a global, multidisciplinary community of experts, including Sabin’s grant partners, from the social and behavioral sciences and global health field collectively working to better understand and problem solve vaccination-related topics impacting acceptance and demand. We are always looking to engage more thinkers and problem-solvers in this space, and we invite contributions to our VARN newsletter to highlight key insights from members to move the field forward.


Nick Boehman

Nick Boehman is an Associate with Sabin’s Vaccine Acceptance & Demand Initiative. Nick provides programmatic support and assists with research needs across the VAD team. He earned his BA in International Relations from Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Prior to joining Sabin, Nick worked as a Program Associate with a CGFNS International, a global health NGO, in a role that was highly research and reporting focused. Prior to that, he interned with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) in Austria, where he gained experience in relationship building with external programmatic stakeholders, and researched, designed, and implemented ICAN’s first, major social media campaign to raise awareness of ICAN’s mission. Having also obtained a minor in film, Nick is creative by nature, and seeks to use that creativity in his everyday work to advance Sabin’s mission.
Nick Boehman

Kate Hopkins, PhD, MPH

Dr. Kate Hopkins oversees the research programming across the Vaccine Acceptance & Demand team to implement program activities, expand and manage partnerships, invest in new research projects and continue the growth of Sabin’s thought leadership programming. Prior to joining Sabin, Kate spent 11 years living and working in sub-Saharan Africa conducting infectious disease prevention and psychosocial-behavioral research and health service program implementation in low- and middle-income countries—with particular focus on high-risk and vulnerable populations. Managing multi-country and multidisciplinary teams, her past portfolio of work included supporting clinical research site operations and strengthening capacity for the conduct of HIV and COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials within the HIV Vaccine Trials Network and COVID-19 Prevention Network. Kate supported the implementation of the ENSEMBLE J&J Phase III clinical trial and the subsequent SISONKE J&J COVID-19 vaccination rollout amongst healthcare workers in South Africa. Kate has been a joint-Faculty Researcher for the Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, for nine years; and is a virtual course lecturer on Operational Research within a post-graduate diploma program in TB/HIV Management for the University of Cape Town in South Africa. She was awarded funding for her PhD study from the CDC as a PEPFAR-funded activity under its Cooperative Agreement with the South African Medical Research Council, earning her degree from the University of the Witwatersrand School of Public Health. She also holds a Masters in Public Health, with a focus on Global Health, from Boston University School of Public Health.
Kate  Hopkins, PhD, MPH

Cassidy Howell, MPH

Cassidy Howell has worked for the past three years with the Sabin Vaccine Institute to translate vaccine and vaccination research findings and evidence into tailored and accessible messages for a variety of key audiences, including health professionals, policy and decision makers, thought leaders, funders, educators and students. Prior to her work with Sabin, Cassidy supported the monitoring and evaluation of infectious disease programs in Guinea and Malawi. Cassidy received her MPH from George Washington University and her BA in International Studies, with a focus in Anthropology, from the University of Florida.
Cassidy Howell, MPH
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