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.

Meeting the Challenge of Vaccination Hesitancy, a report published in June 2020 by the Sabin-Aspen Vaccine Science & Policy Group, lays out actionable steps that leaders across healthcare, research, philanthropy and technology can take to build confidence in vaccines and vaccinations.

Current Projects

Social and Behavioral Interventions For Vaccination Acceptance logo

The Social and Behavioral Interventions for Vaccination Acceptance Small Grants Program aims to identify and fund researchers in low- and middle-income countries to explore the social drivers of vaccination and design small-scale interventions to assess their impact on vaccination acceptance. The 2020 program called for applications exploring the social drivers of COVID-19 misinformation, and its impact on routine immunization and the acceptance of a COVID-19 vaccine. After reviewing applications from 119 countries, Sabin is committed to advancing research in this area by awarding grants of up to $30,000 to five research teams in India, Kenya, Pakistan and Uganda.

Through this support, Sabin is encouraging collaborative, on-the-ground partnerships between academic researchers, health officials and local communities. Grantees will have the opportunity to build relationships and have impactful conversations about their research and potential applications of social science for immunization with the Sabin-led interdisciplinary Vaccination Acceptance Research Network, an international group of social scientists and public health experts addressing vaccine acceptance and demand. Sabin will also support each research team in the compilation and dissemination of an open access journal publication. Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, all components of the 2020 grantees’ projects will be conducted virtually to ensure the safety of the research teams and the communities they work with.

Learn more about the 2020 grant partners:

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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Vaccine Acceptance Research Network logo

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.