site templates free download


Worldwide, vaccines save millions of lives every year. However, decades of progress in reducing vaccine preventable diseases is under threat because vaccination coverage is not as high as it needs to be and there is concern that vaccination acceptance is decreasing. In many countries, parents are declining or delaying measles vaccination for their children and declining rates of measles vaccination have fueled outbreaks (WHO and CDC Report).

In January, the World Health Organization identified vaccination hesitancy as one of the top 10 threats to global health in 2019. In doing so, WHO called for concerted efforts to tackle the challenge, which encompasses reluctance or refusal to receive recommended vaccinations for one’s self or children, lack of confidence or trust in vaccines and vaccination recommendations, lack of appreciation for the full value of vaccination and active demand for vaccination to protect individuals and communities from serious infectious disease threats and outbreaks. In response to calls for action, the Sabin Vaccine Institute is leading an effort to launch the Vaccination Acceptance Research Network (VARN) that will bring together a broad array of expertise to assist immunization programs and advocates in their efforts to achieve the needed high levels of vaccination coverage.    


To build and advance a multi-disciplinary network that uses social and behavioral science insights and research to address vaccination acceptance and demand challenges in global immunization programs.


The Vaccination Acceptance Research Network (VARN) is building a multi-disciplinary global network to foster social and behavioral science research collaborations with immunization programs and advocates to address vaccination acceptance challenges.

To grow this network and advance VARN’s mission, VARN is accepting membership applications from immunization program professionals and researchers from an array of academic, advocacy and public health organizations, including country and subnational immunization programs, university–based public health schools and programs, national public health institutes and international non-government organizations.  



Advocate for building an evidence base for social and behavioral interventions related to vaccination acceptance and demand – and for helping immunization programs and researchers access, use and build upon that evidence base


Prioritize vaccination acceptance and demand research and interventions so that they are grounded in the needs and practical realities of country and local immunization programs


Challenge assumptions and seek innovation in vaccination acceptance and demand research


Build and expand partnerships with research and professional networks, international organizations and policy makers to address vaccination acceptance and demand issues and challenges


The Vaccination Acceptance Research Network (VARN) is based on linking 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 country immunization program managers, and the ability to bring relevant expertise, experience and evidence to address vaccination acceptance challenges.



Health workers
and parents

supporting a qualitative study of experiences of vaccination from the perspectives of health workers and parents in five communities in Romania


The “Laboratory” 

identifying and
co-creating interventions to address challenges faced by national and subnational immunization program managers


Knowledge portal 

building a curated, navigable website of news, tools and resources for vaccination acceptance and demand


Research agenda 

crowd-sourcing research priorities for vaccination acceptance from those on the frontlines of immunization programs

Who We Are

VARN Advisory Committee

Dr Benjamin Kagina
Research Officer, Vaccines for Africa Initiative, University of Cape Town, South Africa

Prof Narendra Kumar Arora
Executive Director, The INCLEN Trust International, India

Dr Samantha Vanderslott
Social Sciences Researcher, Oxford Vaccine Group, United Kingdom

Saad B. Omer, MBBS MPH PhD
Director, Yale Institute for Global Health,
United States 

Lora Shimp
Technical Director - Immunization Center,
John Snow, Inc.,
USA-based; worldwide support

Dr Doug Storey
Director for Communication Science & Research at the Johns Hopkins Center for Communication Programs and Associate Professor in the Department of Health, Behavior & Society at the Bloomberg School of Public Health, United States

Dr Margie Danchin
Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The University of Melbourne and The Royal Children's Hospital, Australia 

Sanjin Musa, MD, PhD
Institute for Public Health of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Lisa Menning
Technical Officer, World Health Organization Headquarters, Switzerland

Carla Vizzotti, MD
Specialist in Health Systems and Social Security, Sociedad Argentina de Vacunología y Epidemiologia (SAVE)
Isalud University, Argentina

Noel Brewer
Professor of Health Behavior,  Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina,
United States 

Dr Cornelia Betsch
Psychology and Infectious Diseases Lab, University of Erfurt, Germany 

Eve Dubé, PhD
Laval University, CHU de Québec Research Center, Quebec National Institute of Public Health, Canada

Dr Holly Seale
Senior Lecturer, School of Public Health & Community Medicine UNSW Sydney, Australia 

Jonas Sivelä, PhD
Senior Researcher, Infectious Disease Control and Vaccinations, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland (THL) 

Dr. Barbara Pahud
Associate Director, Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit, Research Director, Pediatric Infectious Diseases, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Kansas School of Medicine
United States

Financial Support

Funding to support VARN operation and management is provided by the Sabin Vaccine Institute through a grant from private philanthropy. Additional funding is being sought to support VARN’s plans to expand its reach and activities.

The Sabin Vaccine Institute is a leading advocate for expanding vaccine access and uptake globally, advancing vaccine research and development, and amplifying vaccine knowledge and innovation. Unlocking the potential of vaccines through partnership, Sabin has built a robust ecosystem of funders, innovators, implementers, practitioners, policy makers and public stakeholders to advance its vision of a future free from preventable diseases. As a non-profit with more than two decades of experience, Sabin is committed to finding solutions that last and extending the full benefits of vaccines to all people, regardless of who they are or where they live. At Sabin, we believe in the power of vaccines to change the world. 

The Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Vaccine Acceptance Program is a new initiative which aims to advance the application of social and behavioral science research to improve immunization programs globally. The program has three pillars: 

  • Vaccination Acceptance Research Network (VARN)   as an entity for global leadership in the application and advancement of social and behavioral science insights, research and expertise to address vaccine hesitancy, strengthen vaccine confidence, and foster vaccine acceptance and demand among healthcare workers, parents and caregivers, people for whom vaccinations are recommended and the broader public. VARN provides space for researchers and immunization program managers to convene and set research priorities in relation to vaccination acceptance. 
  • Sabin Synergies  strategically integrates vaccine acceptance into Sabin’s ongoing initiatives, including the International Association of Immunization Managers (IAIM) Network and Sabin’s growing expertise in working with journalists to ensure that they have the information they need to cover vaccine and vaccination science and policy. 
  • Vaccination Acceptance for Health Security recognizes that vaccination acceptance is essential in domains beyond routine immunization programs. Vaccination acceptance is also highly relevant to Sabin’s efforts to build new research partnerships with organizations who are developing new vaccines, preparing to or providing vaccines in public health emergencies (e.g., clinical trials involving Ebola vaccines or other emerging infectious diseases) and vaccination in humanitarian settings.