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VARN2022: Shaping Global Vaccine Acceptance with Localized Knowledge

Technical Working Groups

Sabin will be launching four Technical Working Groups (TWG) at the conference to advance and sustain knowledge generation and solution-focused efforts beyond a single event. Our goal is to convene researchers and resources that center on-the-ground, community perspectives to guide vaccination acceptance research agendas, action, and implementation.

These initial sessions will be introductory and exploratory and allow participants to shape the agenda for future meetings. A high-level overview of the TWG topics is included below. We expect these sessions to be dynamic engagements and participant driven. We welcome your unique perspectives to sustain these action-oriented conversations. There will be time in the conference agenda to participate in one TWG session. Initial read-outs will be shared at the closing plenary session, while next steps for the TWGs will be disseminated post-conference. Subsequent opportunities for participants to engage across TWGs will be invited.

Fighting the Infodemic & Harnessing Social Media for Good


  • Dr. Rupali Limaye, PhD, MPH, MA, Associate Scientist, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health
  • Dr. Angus Thomson, PhD, Senior Social Scientist, Consultant for UNICEF – Demand for Immunization

This technical working group will focus on approaches that examine, evaluate, and deploy social and digital media strategies to improve confidence in vaccines and vaccination. The group may additionally consider strategies to increase the reach and accessibility of evidence-informed vaccine information and help individuals identify misinformation and rumors. VARN2022 speaker, Tina Purnat, will share her insights from the 3rd WHO Infodemic Manager Training to guide discussions around such topics as operationalizing the deployment of trained managers; extending opportunities for expanded training; how to adapt to infodemic needs on the ground; and how to connect infodemic managers with the health system and communities. Additional topics may include:

  • Understanding, accessing, and applying social listening tools
  • Accessing ‘hard-to-reach’ online communities
  • Identifying and crafting tools/messages for the platforms where key risk groups are engaging online
  • Building capacity for online users to identify mis/disinformation

Additional resources:

Community-centric Methods to Support Marginalized & Hard-to-Reach Populations


  • Ève Dubé, PhD, Medical Anthropologist, Quebec National Institute of Public Health, VARN Chair
  • Robert Kanwagi, MPH, Consultant for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance – Demand Generation for COVAX

There are no ‘one size fits all’ approaches to understanding or improving vaccine acceptance. Adaptive and tailored strategies that support community-centric initiatives are essential to increasing vaccine uptake and sustaining demand. Communities have diverse and unique characteristics that require bespoke solutions to reduce the barriers they face. This Technical Working Group will convene to learn from existing community-based initiatives and share tools and best practices for designing and implementing community-centric approaches for increasing vaccination acceptance and uptake in a range of diverse community settings: urban, peri-urban, rural, marginalized, displaced populations, and zero-dose populations.  Discussions will work to identify appropriate, localized solutions given the influence of vaccine access, health systems capacity in low-resourced settings, basic healthcare access, community relationships with the health workforce and local and international health interventions. Additional topics may include:

  • Identifying vaccination guidance and policy that such community-based initiatives can inform and how to support researchers in providing actionable outputs.
  • How to operationalize recommendations from IA2030 and GAVI 5.0
  • How to reach zero-dose children with routine immunization

Additional Resources:

Data Integrity & the Evaluation of Best Practices


  • Sunny Sharma, MSc, Director of Global Health, Ipsos MORI
  •  Dr. Kennedy Otwombe, PhD, Director of Statistics, Perinatal HIV Research Unit, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa

Understanding both the barriers and drivers of vaccine acceptance in a community requires quality data on immunization rates and vaccine access and methods for measuring personal beliefs, perceptions, and cultural sentiment. With a data collection and reporting perspective, this Technical Working Group will work to address challenges discrepancies between community-reported vaccination status and official government statistics. Challenges may include sampling issues, survey design, social desirability biases, and lags in reporting. This group aims to bring researchers together to advance best practices and data integrity solutions to support improved understanding of vaccine acceptance at national and community levels.

Additional Resources:

Communities of Practice Networks & Platforms


  • Stacey Knobler, MSc, Vice President of Vaccine Innovation and Global Immunization, Sabin Vaccine Institute
  • Dr. Anant Bhan, MBBS, MHSc, Adjunct (Visiting) Professor in the Department of Community Medicine, Yenepoya Medical College and the Centre for Ethics, Yenepoya University, Mangalore

Communities of Practice (COP), often used for sharing and disseminating information and expertise, have a core purpose of collective and peer-to-peer learning that advances a field of practice and translates knowledge into effective action and implementation. COP often aim to address a broad scope of community interests as well specific issues (e.g., vaccination demand). They can be an essential tool for surfacing and elevating concerns and reactions from community members across the ecosystem. Communities inclusive of policy and program decisionmakers (local, national, or global) can be responsive to and held accountable to adapting strategies that prove unacceptable or unsuccessful in practice. This Technical Working Group aims to understand the existing landscape of COPs/Networks focused on vaccine acceptance and demand and determine how best to implement an informative, dynamic, and needs-based cycle of reactive change. Topics for discussion may be:

  • Best mechanisms for CoPs to inform and engage local, regional and global stakeholders
  • Strategies to create safe spaces within CoPs, allowing for members to share openly about experienced challenges and/or failures in practice
  • High priority needs of existing CoPs
  •  Tools, trainings, and platforms being developed for CoPs

Additional Resources: