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Monthly Roundup: Addressing Vaccine Equity and Acceptance at the World Health Assembly, Immunization Advocates Strengthening Health Systems

75th World Health Assembly

The World Health Assembly was held in Geneva, Switzerland, on May 22-28, 2022, with the theme “Health for Peace, Peace for Health.” As a World Health Organization non-State actor, Sabin presented virtual statements to world leaders on Agenda Items for Immunization Agenda 2030 (IA 2030) and the health workforce. Sabin highlighted to WHO Member States and advocates that greater and more strategic investment in close-to-community professionals is needed to address address vaccine inequities, improve vaccine acceptance and reverse declining immunization rates.

Sabin Vice President for Global Immunization Stacey Knobler urged WHO Member States to take urgent action to reverse the backslide in routine immunization uptake and utilize locally-derived solutions to address vaccine equity and acceptance and meet IA2030 targets.

Sabin Director for Advocacy and Outreach Vince Blaser called on WHO Member States to increase investment in the health workforce as a central pillar to address vaccine equity and acceptance.

Nursing Now Challenge and World Innovation Summit for Health pre-World Health Assembly Workshop 

Ahead of the 75th World Health Assembly, the Nursing Now Advocacy Champions hosted a session during the workshop Elevating the Voices of Nurses and Midwives, organized by Nursing Now Challenge and the World Innovation Summit for Health (WISH). 

Nurses and midwives from Kenya, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda and the United States talked about their work to encourage vaccination in their communities.

Mohamed Modber – a community health nurse, researcher and global health advocate based in Sudan – facilitated the conversation, which was co-moderated by Vince Blaser and kicked off by Catherine Kane, technical officer for the WHO Health Workforce Department.

Read about the Nursing Now Challenge and Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Immunization Advocates program Storytelling Challenge for nurses and midwives. Explore the Immunization Advocates’ resource hub for health workers. Read more

Climate Change and Vaccines: What have we learned to tackle misinformation?

June 5 was World Environment Day. Rupali Limaye, PhD, MPH, and Alexandra Michel, MPH, of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, share insights on the lessons learned from climate change communication that can be applied to vaccine acceptance strategies. Read more.

Unpacking Immunity, a global dialogue with journalists

As efforts to vaccinate the world against COVID-19 continue into 2022 and waves of infections with variants and sub-variants continue to emerge, journalists face questions from audiences about immunity. Internews and Immunization Advocates co-organized a Global Media Dialogue on Unpacking Immunity. Speakers included Dr. James E. Crowe, Jr., director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center; Dr. Jennifer Juno, T cell immunologist at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity; and Dr. Erica Saphire, professor of the La Jolla Institute for Immunology and lead for CoVIC. There were 48 participants from 21 countries, most of them journalists. Internews also developed an immunity mini-glossary with basic terms and their meanings to help journalists explain immunity to a general audience. Watch on YouTube.

Last March, a similar Global Media Dialogue, Unpacking COVAX, was hosted by Internews and Immunization Advocates featuring Dr. Seth Berkley, Gavi CEO and COVAX co-lead. 135 participants from 31 countries — mainly from Africa — joined virtually to take a dive deep into the initiative’s work and clarify common misconceptions. Internews and Gavi created a FAQ for journalists on the role of COVAX on global COVID-19 vaccine access. Watch on YouTube.

News coverage supported by Immunization Advocates

New stories by participants of the mentorship program in Africa and Latin America led by the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF), with support from Immunization Advocates, were published by Malawi’s The Times and Zambia’s Daily Mail. Additionally, a special investigative report on the alarming decline in routine immunization rates in Brazil was prominently featured in Al Jazeera.

A participant in the Internews-led training Let’s Talk Vaccines for Francophone reporters in Africa, published a feature on VaccinesWork, a digital platform hosted by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance.

Vaccine Acceptance Research Network 2022 (VARN2022) conference report

The Sabin Vaccine Institute released the Vaccine Acceptance Research Network 2022 (VARN2022) conference report, a synthesis of the discussions and research findings from global experts in anthropology, epidemiology, public health and medicine across the academia, government, civil society and other sectors, to share knowledge and set priorities at the intersection of immunization and social and behavioral research.

Sabin convened VARN2022 last March to shed further understanding and break down barriers to vaccine acceptance and demand. The conference brought together more than 750 experts from 76 countries.