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Vaccination Acceptance Research Network

VARN2023 Call for Abstracts

Flier with picture of Bangkok landscape with the following text: CALL FOR ABSTRACTS for the VACCINATION ACCEPTANCE RESEARCH NETWORK CONFERENCE. June 13-15, 2023, Bangkok, Thailand. Vaccination Acceptance Research Network and UNICEF logos at the bottom..

This call has now closed. 

Submission Period Opens: November 1, 2022 11:59pm EST
Submission Deadline: January 13, 2023 11:59pm EST
Contact: For any questions regarding abstract submission, please contact: English contact or French contact.
Apply: Abstracts will be accepted in either English or French
Submit Abstract

Announcing VARN2023

Sabin is excited to announce the Call for Abstracts (CFA) for the second annual VARN Conference (#VARN2023) being held from June 13-15, 2023, in Bangkok, Thailand. VARN2023 will be hosted and sponsored jointly with UNICEF. This meeting will be an open, in-person event with facilitation of virtual presentations, as needed. Conference sessions will provide a space for exploration and facilitate the wide dissemination of a growing body of knowledge, practice, and evidence-informed strategies for driving action across the vaccination acceptance and demand ecosystem. A ‘post-live’ publishing of recorded sessions will be made available to all registrants on the conferencing website.

In 2022, Sabin’s inaugural VARN conference and the UNICEF-affiliated COVID-19 global demand event  brought together over 1500 global experts as registered attendees across 126 countries. Participants represented diverse disciplines including global health and policy, research and academia, and healthcare and health communications.

Sabin and UNICEF invite the submission of both research-based and measurable, practice-based abstracts depicting either completed work or ongoing projects to be completed by June 2023. Abstracts should fall within one of the abstract focus areas. We will prioritize submissions from investigators and professionals in low- and middle-income countries and welcome evidence-based case studies and abstracts on intervention-based research and practice. These submissions will shape and facilitate presentations and panel discussions designed to inform the real-time challenges and efforts of local, national, regional, and global community actors in attendance.

In-person participation costs for all selected oral presenters will be covered by the conference organizers. If selected for a poster presentation, an application for travel award consideration will be made available as an opportunity to support early-career presenters under 40 years of age from low- and middle-income settings.

At VARN2023, we will be providing simultaneous live audio interpretation in French and English for all sessions. All posters in English and French will have translated abstract handouts provided.

Overview of Abstract Focus Areas

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused alarming global trends of declining rates of routine childhood immunization. After decades of reaching more communities and saving countless lives, data recently released by the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF depict the largest sustained decline in childhood vaccinations in approximately 30 years. Twenty-five million children missed out on life-saving vaccinations in 2021, with the most severe impact in LMICs. Recovery of this lost ground to reach these children must be a global public health priority.

The COVID-19 vaccination roll-out laid bare large global deficits in adult and life-course vaccination programming and policies. Sub-optimal delivery infrastructure combined with challenges such as low confidence in vaccines, lack of trust in health systems and authorities, and the absence of COVID-19 vaccination as a social norm, continue to pose significant barriers to achieving higher uptake. Additionally, increasing volumes of mis- and disinformation regarding vaccines has made clear that investment in adult immunization and life-course vaccination will be a key measure of future pandemic prevention and preparedness.

The value of understanding social and behavioral drivers of vaccination to inform interventions designed to increase and sustain high coverage rates has been well established. Increasingly, the need to tailor these interventions with highly localized evaluations and strategies has become apparent. For example, the COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery Partnership reported in June 2022 that community-based approaches have recently driven marked increases in COVID-19 vaccination rates in 16 countries, which had previous rates of below 10 percent.

Given these current priorities, Sabin and UNICEF are inviting the submission of social and behavioral science-informed abstracts that identify and address barriers towards vaccine acceptance, demand and uptake amongst priority populations. Abstracts should depict evidence-based research and practical interventions from either completed projects or projects expected to be completed by no later than June 2023. Abstracts are to fit within the following topics (examples provided but not exhaustive):

  1. Recovering lost gains in routine childhood immunizations as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
    a) Social and behavior change interventions to catch-up children who have fallen behind on local routine immunization schedules
    b) Identification of and strategies to reach zero-dose children
  2. Building effective adult immunization and life-course vaccination programs
    a) Evidence-based frameworks for monitoring and evaluating social and behavioral determinants of vaccination
    b) Strategies to support health workers in vaccination promotion and strengthening delivery interventions
    c) Integrated social and behavior change interventions that are leveraged from the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out to enhance routine immunization and primary health care
  3. Demand generation strategies for routine childhood and adult immunization
    a) Social and behavioral communications campaigns – online and offline
    b) Community-based participatory approaches towards increasing vaccine acceptance
  4. Social listening to mitigate rumors and misinformation about vaccines and vaccination
    a) Online and offline interventions to track, analyze, and address rumors and misinformation about vaccines and vaccination
    b) Using community feedback to adjust plans and strategies to improve vaccine uptake
    c) Leveraging social media to reach and engage specific audience groups

An overarching topic for all thematic categories is identifying and addressing barriers (e.g., structural inequalities) to vaccine acceptance, demand and uptake amongst priority populations. Abstracts focusing on research within historically marginalized communities (e.g., LGBTIA+, indigenous communities, mobile populations, people living with disabilities) from LMICs are particularly encouraged.

Submission Requirements

  • All abstract submissions must be from original research or evidence-based practice and not previously published or presented.
  • Abstracts must be submitted in English or French.
  • By submitting your abstract, you agree that the abstract may be printed in official conference publications (if accepted).
  • The Conference Selection Committee will determine whether the abstract is accepted and if it will be presented as an oral or poster presentation.
  • The presenting author is required to ensure that all co-authors agree to these terms and conditions before submission of their abstract.
  • We invite you to submit an abstract of up to 500 words, which should not contain any unexplained acronyms.
  • The abstract should be a concise, standalone piece, with not more than three cited references (which do not contribute to word count)

Abstracts must include the following sections:

  1. Background. Include the underlying problem (context, situation overview and problem statement), and clearly state the aim, objective(s) and rationale.
  2. Methodology.
    1. For research-based abstracts: Concisely describe the study setting, participant inclusion criteria and sampling, methods employed for data collection – inclusive of types of data instruments to be used (e.g., survey tools, interview guide), and method(s) of analysis.
    2. For practice-based abstracts: Concisely describe the project setting, method of action (intervention or solution), and how impact was measured.
  3. Results.
    1. For completed research: Summarize the significant findings of the study as they pertain to the research aim and objectives.
    2. For ongoing research: Summarize initial results as related to the research aim and objectives (if available) and/or state the date of projected completion of data analysis.
    3. For completed practice-based abstracts: Summarize key results and impact (where applicable).
    4. For ongoing practice-based abstracts: Summarize the initial key results and impact (if available) and/or state the date of projected completion of the project.
  4. Recommendations and/or Conclusion.
    1. For completed research: Clearly state any evidence-based recommendations for immunization policy, programs and/or practice; or summarize the practical importance of the findings which contribute towards or enhance the body of evidence-based knowledge within the ecosystem of vaccination acceptance, demand and uptake. Recommendations and/or concluding statements should be well supported by the study results and not a sweeping statement without any valid evidence.
    2. For ongoing research: Summarize the projected importance of future findings.
    3. For completed practice-based abstracts: Highlight recommendations and key learnings that can support scale-up and replication.
    4. For ongoing practice-based abstracts: Summarize the projected importance of future evidence-informed recommendations and key learnings that could support scale-up and replication.

Additional information to be included, outside of the allotted word count is:

  • Title of the abstract
  • Full names of presenting author and any co-author(s) and the institutional or organizational affiliation and contact information of each author
  • Up to three references affiliated with the in-text citation
  • Key words; choose up to five key terms that describe the submitted abstract

All abstracts are to be submitted here by January 13, 2023, 11:59pm EST.

Authors will receive the final status of their application by no later than the Decision Notification date, and if accepted, further instructions will be provided regarding how to prepare and submit a final PowerPoint or poster for respective presentations.

For any questions regarding abstract submission, please contact: English contact or French contact.

Abstract Review and Selection Process

Applications received by the close of the Call for Abstracts (11:59PM EST on Friday, January 13, 2023) will undergo a multi-phase review process including initial eligibility screening, a multidisciplinary external peer review committee, and internal review and final selection. Applications will be evaluated for the relevance and novelty of research or practical topic and potential impact on the field. Sabin and UNICEF will notify applicants of decisions by no later than April 3, 2023.

Travel Awards and Eligibility

Sabin, UNICEF and VARN aim to support the development and success of early-career investigators and professionals from low- and middle-income settings. Attendance at global professional events affords opportunities to gain new perspectives in one’s field of work, to boost exposure of one’s own research, to participate in thought-provoking discussions and to explore the potential of new collaborations through both formal and informal networking; all of which equate to invaluable career-advancement opportunities.

In an effort to expand these opportunities for the next generation of research and professional leaders, Sabin and UNICEF will provide a limited number of travel awards for presenters of abstracts accepted for poster presentation. These awards will cover the conference costs for the recipient (i.e., conference registration, air/ground transportation, lodging and other incidentals for in-person attendance at VARN2023).

Within the Decision Notification for accepted abstracts for poster presentation, there will be further direction on how to apply for a Travel Award. The deadline for Travel Award applications will be April 17, 2023, 11:59pm EST; and Awardees will be notified by Monday May 1, 2023.

Eligible applicants must be:

  • The abstract’s proposed presenter – a change in presenter will be allowed through April 17, 2023
  • Affiliated with a not-for-profit entity, as this program supports individuals and institutions with limited opportunities and resources for funding. Authors from for-profit entities will not be considered for travel awards.
  • A resident within and represent a research project from a low- and middle-income setting, as per the World Bank. Presenters from high-income settings will not be considered.
  • Considered an early-career investigator or professional, under 40 years of age.

Additional Opportunities for Accepted Abstracts

All oral and poster presentations at VARN2023 have the opportunity to be included within the VARN2023 Conference Report, which summarizes the conference proceedings and insights. There will also be a sponsored VARN 2023 conference journal supplement, which will include invited articles from selected presenters.

All abstracts will be kept confidential and securely filed.

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world.

UNICEF believes that taking people centered approaches in the design of the delivery and utilization of health programmes is fundamental to ensure that immunization and other health services are tailored to the needs of the most vulnerable, particularly in zero dose and under-vaccinated communities. To achieve this, UNICEF supports countries to develop evidence-based, locally-informed, context-specific strategies with active community participation to improve vaccine uptake.

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