Over the last 200 years, vaccines have proven to be one of the most effective ways to prevent and control disease. They have tremendous potential to save lives, but only if immunization rates remains high.

The evidence confirming the safety and effectiveness of vaccines is overwhelming. Just as we rely on evidence and research to make decisions about vaccine development and introduction, we must research and identify approaches that would enable people to better understand the safety and protections provided by immunization. Every parent should understand how vaccines protect their children and communities from devastating diseases that once affected so many.

Some parents are deciding to delay the recommended immunization schedule or decline vaccination altogether, though the reasons underlying these decisions vary widely depending on the location, demographic and vaccine in question. Delay or refusal of childhood immunizations poses a danger to unvaccinated children and to public health by leaving children vulnerable to serious diseases like polio, measles and diphtheria. Low vaccination rates reduce community or herd immunity, which is essential to keep such diseases out of a population.

Immunization managers, health professionals and the media must be prepared to answer parents’ questions to inspire confidence in immunization.

Sabin connects people with the resources they need to overcome barriers to vaccination and improve vaccine uptake. Sabin helps immunization professionals inoculate against misinformation about vaccines by providing them with the latest tactics, tools and behavioral insights to encourage vaccine confidence within their communities.


Current Projects

The Social and Behavioral Interventions for Vaccination Acceptance Small Grants Program aims to identify promising social and behavioral research projects and pilot interventions for increasing vaccine acceptance in low- and middle-income countries. This program will fund novel research projects that both explore the social and behavioral factors affecting vaccine acceptance and use research findings to pilot intervention programs. Sabin is committed to advancing research in this area by awarding grants of $25,000 each to researchers in low- and middle-income countries who will combine rigorous research with robust intervention programs. In so doing, this program also fosters collaboration between academic researchers and national immunization program managers and health officials. The goal of the Small Grants Program is to generate these relationships and establish an invaluable feedback loop between academic research and immunization programs. By fostering these on-the-ground relationships, research findings can be operationalized to reform immunization program strategies and community outreach tactics, with the ultimate goal of increasing immunization uptake and eradicating preventable diseases globally. Additionally, grantees will have the opportunity to build relationships and have impactful conversations about ways forward for immunization acceptance with the interdisciplinary Vaccine Acceptance Research Network comprised of social scientists and public health experts addressing vaccine acceptance and demand challenges.

The 2020 call for proposals is now closed. Sabin will notify all applicants of a funding decision with respect to their proposal by close of business on August 28, 2020. 

Any questions regarding proposal submission can be addressed to: [email protected]

External Review Committee

An External Review Committee comprised of experts from a variety of disciplines will peer review eligible submissions and advise Sabin on the selection of grantees.

2019 Small Grants Program

For the 2019 grant cycle, Sabin received more than 50 proposals representing 32 countries. Sabin awarded grants of $24,000 each to research teams from Uganda, India and Sierra Leone to research, design and pilot a research project and community-level intervention. Each research project contributed to our understanding of the social drivers of vaccine acceptance across country and local-level contexts, with a particular focus on low- and middle-income countries. The grantees’ research findings, detailing what drives individuals to accept vaccines in specific contexts, move us toward a global future free from preventable disease.

Learn more about the grant recipients and their research projects.

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The Vaccination Acceptance Research Network (VARN) links multi-disciplinary researchers with immunization programs to address vaccination acceptance and demand challenges.

VARN advocates for use of multi-disciplinary approaches to identify barriers and facilitators of vaccination acceptance and to close the knowledge gaps that pose challenges to achieving high or higher immunization coverage. VARN links social and behavior science insights and research with immunization program practice by:

  • Using and applying social and behavior change theories to guide the design and/or evaluation of interventions around vaccination acceptance and demand
  • Developing and testing interventions to improve uptake in ongoing immunization programs
  • Fostering greater consistency in the application and use of social and behavioral science insights and methods

The network’s strengths include access to research experts from multiple disciplines and geographic regions, a strong connection to national immunization program managers, and the ability to bring relevant expertise, experience and evidence to address vaccination acceptance challenges.

To learn more about the project click here.

Funding to support VARN operation and management is provided by the Sabin Vaccine Institute through a grant from private philanthropy.