Back Close
Community Conversations on Vaccines, Episode 11

77th UNGA Reflections: Building and Sustaining Vaccine Acceptance with Dr. Anant Bhan & Dr. Kate Hopkins

October 13, 2022

Dr. Anant Bhan and Dr. Kate Hopkins reflect on UNGA and discuss long-term strategies for boosting vaccine confidence.

Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Community Conversations on Vaccines, presented by Immunization Advocates, explores issues related to vaccines and immunization in low and middle-income countries through discussions with close-to-community professionals, including health workers, journalists, and researchers.

Francesca, Vince, Kate, and Anant (left to right) record this episode in the studio.

Co-hosts Vince Blaser and Francesca Montalto are joined in New York City on the sidelines of the 77th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) by Dr. Anant Bhan, mentor and principal investigator for Sangath in Bhopal, India and researcher in global health, health policy, and bioethics with over 18 years of experience and numerous publications to his name, and Dr. Kate Hopkins, Director of Research, Vaccine Acceptance & Demand at Sabin Vaccine Institute.

Anant Bhan reflects on marginalization, health equity, and access and addresses why decolonization, community perspectives, and lived experiences must contribute to the reform of building and sustaining vaccine acceptance and demand. Kate Hopkins reflects on multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary collaborative efforts to provide sustainable solutions toward vaccine acceptance.

If you want to learn more about Anant and Kate’s thoughts on sustainable approaches toward building and sustaining vaccine acceptance and demand, check out the key takeaways of this episode or the transcript.

Key Highlights:

  • The Need for Multisectoral and Multidisciplinary Collaboration – It takes tremendous collaboration to save the world, something no person can do alone. Whether in discussions of primary healthcare systems or the production of vaccines, community involvement and co-design are essential to long-term solutions.
  • The Role of Influencers in Checkmating Historical Mistrust – During the COVID-19 pandemic, some people in marginalized communities such as transgender individuals and people living with disabilities developed mistrust in vaccination due to structural inequities in access and engagement with health care; however, with the help of influential individuals, a healthy context can be rebuilt around proper information that can aid decision-making regarding vaccination.
  • The Role of Community-based Participatory Approaches to Gaining Trust – To earn the community’s trust, it’s essential to work with them to find solutions rather than only conducting studies on them. By involving community influencers in the problem-solving process, communities are more likely to embrace the initiative that emerges and become champions of the solution.
  • The Role of Transparency in Engaging with Communities – If messages from health systems don’t mention extremely rare negative instances, they can become controversial and spread through social media. They must be honest with the public about any potential safety or other issues in health interventions.
“When working with communities, you need to know that they will have valid concerns and might have misconceptions, and it’s crucial to engage and hear communities out.”
Dr. Anant Bhan
Mentor and Principal Investigator at Sangath in Bhopal, India

Francesca, Vince, Kate, and Anant (left to right) record in a podcast studio

Francesca, Vince, Kate, and Anant (left to right) record in a podcast studio

Sabin staff and partners at East River

Sabin staff and partners at Madison Square Park

Anant speaks at Devex-Sabin event at UNGA

Group at Devex-Sabin event at UNGA

“Sometimes the answers to difficult global health challenges might be found in the practical experience and knowledge of local communities and community health professionals.”
Dr. Kate Hopkins
Director of Research, Vaccine Acceptance & Demand, Sabin Vaccine Institute

Devex @ UNGA77 in partnership with Sabin Vaccine Institute: Reversing alarming declines in immunization

Frontline Health Workers Coalition @ UNGA Roundtable 2: Listen & Support | Global Action & Alignment for Health Workers

Meet Our Guests

Anant Bhan
Dr. Anant Bhan, MBBS, MHSc, is a researcher in global health, health policy, bioethics and mental health with over 20 years of experience. Trained as a medical doctor from India and in bioethics from the University of Toronto, Anant currently leads/co-leads several research projects in the areas of global mental health, health equity, participatory research and community engagement. Anant also serves as a mentor for the Bhopal Hub of Sangath, a public health research organization. In addition, Anant serves in several institutional ethics committees and teaches bioethics in Yenepoya University (Fogarty International Centre), Manipal Academy of Higher Education, and at some of the All India Institutes of Medical Sciences. Anant is also very active in engaging with news media and social media. Connect with Anant on Twitter: @AnantBhan
Anant Bhan
Kate Hopkins
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