Linked Community News May/June 2022

This newsletter is available in English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Russian.

Since we launched in January, the Linked Immunisation Action Network has been busy conducting needs assessments with middle-income countries to better understand their barriers to sustainable and equitable immunisation coverage and introduction of key missing vaccines. We developed a learning agenda focused on addressing those barriers, and are now proceeding in full gear with an exciting schedule of learning engagements over the next few months on topics such as:

  • strengthening immunisation service delivery through PHC platforms
  • clearing the backlog in routine immunisation and catching up missed children
  • supporting national decision-making in introduction of new vaccines
  • leveraging COVID-19 electronic immunisation registries for routine immunisation

We have also been connecting with members of the network to learn more about their work and highlight success stories for our Practitioner Perspectives series. As part of this series, be sure to check out the video featured below on Sri Lanka’s blended civil-military response to the COVID-19 pandemic and routine immunisation delivery. Also, don’t miss this interview with Vietnam on low vaccine confidence in healthcare workers, this interview with Armenia on addressing vaccine hesitancy challenges (in English and Russian), and this video highlighting Nigeria’s national community engagement strategy. Additional video interviews are coming soon! We also encourage you to listen to our podcast featuring three health workforce experts that discuss the ongoing workforce challenges faced by immunisation programmes.

We are excited about our journey ahead. We have great ambition and will be experimenting with new learning modalities to support countries to address barriers to sustainable coverage, equity, and vaccine introductions. Explore our theory of change on our website to see where we’re headed. As always, we will share our learnings with you along the way!

Best regards,
Your Linked Network Facilitation Team from Curatio International Foundation (Tbilisi), the Institute for Health Policy (Colombo), and Results for Development (Washington, DC)

Network Updates

NEW: Mobilizing the Military Medical Services for COVID-19 Response: How Sri Lanka’s Joint Effort Eased the Burden on Health Workers and Ensured Continuance of Routine Immunisation
The Ministry of Health (MoH) and Military Medical Services in Sri Lanka worked side-by-side to ensure health workers were able to continue providing routine immunisation and other primary health care services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We recently sat down with Col. Dr. Saveen Semage, former Deputy Director, Sri Lanka Army Preventive Medical Services and Consultant Community Physician, Sri Lanka Army Medical Services to hear about the country’s experiences with its blended civil-military response to the pandemic. Check out the 9-minute interview as part of our Practitioner Perspectives Series to hear about lessons learned from this joint effort and recommendations for other countries considering leveraging military medical services as surge capacity during emergencies. To accompany the interview, our blog includes highlights from other countries in the Asia-Pacific region who leveraged their military medical services to support the pandemic response. 

Featured News & Resources

New Lessons Learned in Building COVID-19 Vaccine Acceptance
Meta, UNICEF, and the Yale Institute for Global Health co-developed social media campaigns to drive COVID-19 vaccine acceptance in Kenya, India, Pakistan, and Ukraine. In this article, explore the takeaways and lessons learned on which messages were most effective.

New Standardized Toolkit to Assess Equity in Vaccine Coverage
Researchers at Johns Hopkins University developed a new standardized toolkit to assess equity in vaccine coverage. The VERSE Equity Toolkit compares the level of vaccine coverage against the level of equity in the selected country and quantifies the influence of key sociodemographic factors to inequity. The toolkit is accompanied by a detailed user guide and will be officially launched during a webinar on 25 May 2022.

Improving Vaccination Equity in Rural Uganda
CHAI Uganda’s vaccines team set out to help the government address challenges with routine immunisation service delivery and improve equity across 14 districts in Uganda. This case study shows the impact and lessons learned from the experience.

COVID-19 in the Americas: Listening to the Most Vulnerable
A recent report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) on perceptions around COVID-19 in Latin America and the Caribbean, reveals that some vulnerable populations face constraints in accessing vaccination services, lack trust in their local authorities or decision makers, and are reluctant to get inoculated due to fear of side effects and concerns over safety. The report also summarizes the findings and offers actionable recommendations.

An Epidemic of Uncertainty: Rumors, Conspiracy Theories and Vaccine Hesitancy
In this Nature Medicine Perspective, the authors discuss the new digital communications landscape in relation to vaccines, emphasizing the role of trust in overcoming hesitancy and building vaccine confidence beyond the current pandemic.

Country-Specific Case Studies on Immunization Activities During the COVID-19 Pandemic
This report documents the challenges and achievements of six countries – Angola, Bangladesh, India, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, and Yemen – as they reinstated immunisation campaigns despite the wide-reaching impact caused by COVID-19.

CALL FOR NOMINATIONS: Join the Gavi Civil Society Organization (CSO) Steering Committee
Want to ensure that the views of civil society are heard and engaged throughout Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance? Submit your nomination to join the Gavi CSO Steering Committee by May 31st. Find out more information about the roles, responsibilities, qualifications, and how to submit a nomination.

Findings from Immunisation Campaign Costing Studies in India, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone: Policy and Programme Implications
Over the coming years, catch-up campaigns which co–deliver multiple antigens and other health interventions are likely to be used more often, with the need for efficiencies elevated by the COVID–19 pandemic. This policy brief presents new costing evidence on the operational cost of immunisation campaigns from studies conducted in India, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone.

New Studies Show Empowering Women Can Mean Fewer Children Miss Out on Essential Vaccines
Two new studies suggest that women’s education reduces the number of zero-dose children—those children who never receive any vaccines.

External Events

Register for Upcoming Learning Event: Introducing Programme-Based Budgets in Health
This Global Learning Event, taking place on June 28th, is an opportunity to share and review practical experiences of reforms to initiate programme-based budgeting in the health sector, with a focus on LMICs. It is designed to benefit Ministry of Health officials who are involved in the design and implementation of these reforms and may be of interest to other actors including finance authorities, planning ministries, and development partners wanting a better understanding of the requirements for this type of reform in the health sector. Please register in advance of the event.

Estimating the Costs and Budgeting Requirements of a National Immunisation Strategy
The National Immunisation Strategy costing application (NIS.COST) is a new approach developed by UNICEF for estimating the costs and budget implications of implementing a five-year National Immunisation Strategy (NIS). This recent webinar provided an introduction to NIS.COST, how to use it, and lessons learned from country experiences.

Country Spotlights

Restoring Confidence in Immunisation During COVID-19in Bangladesh
To dispel myths and misinformation that led to significant immunisation dropout rates during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Health in Bangladesh rolled out a behavioral change communication campaign and trained health workers on infection prevention and control. Check out the results of the campaign in this Boost Bright Spots.

School-Based Targeting Increases HPV Vaccination Ratesin India
The successful introduction of the HPV vaccine in the Bhatinda and Mansa districts of Punjab, India, in 2016, as well as a government-sponsored vaccination drive in Delhi harbors lessons for others to learn from. Explore this Vaccines Work story to find out.

Ghana Finds Success in COVID-19 Mass Vaccination Campaigns
To improve COVID-19 vaccine uptake, Ghana instituted two National COVID-19 Vaccination Days between February and May 2022. These campaigns have been successful, leading to an increase in doses administered. Learn more about the campaign results in this WHO news article.

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