“The Vaccine Confidence Fund is playing a crucial role in leveraging innovative research to demonstrate new ways in which social media platforms can play a positive role in societal health,” said Heidi Larson, Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project and Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine. “The VCF is bringing multiple disciplines together to take on this global health challenge to be more responsive to questions and concerns, as well as build public confidence in vaccines.”
Grantees were selected in a competitive, open process managed by Global Impact, the fiscal sponsor and Fund manager, with the support of the VCF Advisory Council, a small interdisciplinary group of domain experts from the vaccination confidence, public health, social media, and behavioral and data sciences fields.
“Supporting the public health efforts to increase vaccine confidence has been our top priority,” said KX Jin, Facebook’s Head of Health. “We’re looking forward to building on this work with the innovative approaches that will come from the newly selected grantees to advance our collective understanding of how social media platforms can be leveraged for positive health and increase the health and resiliency of communities around the world.”
Grantees from the Fund were selected from a pool of almost 300 applicants and cover research topics touching all regions of the world with a strong focus on historically excluded or marginalized communities and authentic community engagement. VCF grantees will also bring new insights on both COVID-19 and routine immunization in communities including youth, the elderly, pregnant and postpartum women, health care workers, and people with disabilities.
The projects selected will use a variety of novel research approaches and explore how behavioral nudges, natural language processing, the use of chatbots, and targeted influencers impact vaccination confidence and vaccine uptake. Finally, more than half of the grantees will be investigating the connection between social media (online) and vaccine uptake (offline) through vaccination bookings and/or actual vaccinations via health clinics. Please see the sample list below of grant recipients from the Fund or visit VCF’s website for a complete overview of the research.
“Building confidence in vaccination is critical to reducing vaccine hesitancy, which threatens to stall and even reverse progress made in combatting vaccine-preventable diseases worldwide,” said John H. Markels, President, Merck Vaccines. “It is our hope that insights shared from these novel research efforts will support innovative solutions that increase the positive impact of accurate, scientifically based information, improving resilient and sustainable immunization programs worldwide.”
While these grantees are conducting their research, the AAHO will be working with the Bay Area Global Health Alliance and the Sabin Vaccine Institute to host community conversations to highlight diverse, present-day examples of social media’s capacity to positively impact vaccine confidence and health behaviors. An example of these conversations includes the recently launched Vax Up Podcast, a new series exploring the power of social media to strengthen vaccine confidence and shape health behaviors. The podcast is moderated by Ben Plumley of “A Shot in the Arm” podcast and will feature panel discussions with top experts and spotlight case studies including some of the grantees of the Fund.
A sampling of Vaccine Confidence Fund grant recipients:
- 19 To Zero in partnership with the University of Calgary and IV.AI
- Busara Center for Behavioral Economics
- Grameen Foundation India (GFI)
- International Longevity Centre
- IRD Global
- Johns Hopkins University
- Laboratory of Data Discovery for Health (D24H)
- Mali Health
- Minority Rights Group
- Morning Star Lodge, University of Saskatchewan
- Oklahoma State University
- ORB International, the Vaccine Confidence Project, and Real Chemistry
- University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, Stanford University and University of California, Berkeley
- Shujaaz Inc
- The Behavioural Insights Team
- The George Washington University
- The Unity Consortium
- Trustees of Indiana University
- University of California, San Francisco
- University of California, San Francisco; Maya Health Alliance | Wuqu’ Kawoq; Digital Medic/Stanford University
- University of Washington – Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation
- University of Washington – Department of Human Centered Design & Engineering
- Upstream Thinking
For more information, please visit vaccineconfidencefund.org.
The Alliance for Advancing Health Online (AAHO) is a newly forming initiative to advance public understanding of how social media and behavioral sciences can be leveraged to improve the health of communities around the world. The AAHO’s mission is to bring together the Bay Area Global Health Alliance, the CDC Foundation, Facebook, the MIT Initiative on the Digital Economy, Merck & Co., Inc., Sabin Vaccine Institute, the Vaccine Confidence Project at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, the World Bank, the World Health Organization, and Global Impact. This $40 million multi-year initiative will initially focus on addressing vaccine hesitancy and vaccine equity with a strong focus on historically excluded or marginalized communities. In addition, the AAHO intends to create a global network of centers of social media and health research focused on improving health behavior via online platforms.