Emory University | Woodruff Health Sciences Center
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Studying vaccine VIPs

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Most of the unimmunized children in the world live in Southeast Asia and Africa. Within these regions, however, a few countries—including Zambia, Nepal, Senegal, and India—have been able to achieve high and sustained vaccination rates, some even comparable to those in the U.S. yet with much fewer resources.

Drs. Matthew Freeman and Robert Bednarczyk are leading a team of interdisciplinary scientists from Emory and Georgia Tech to find out why and how these countries have been so successful. “We know the factors that are essential to a strong vaccine program, such as a functional supply chain, a strong workforce, low vaccine hesitancy, and robust monitoring,” says Freeman, an associate professor of environmental health. “We want to go beyond that to understand how and why particular components function well in these countries.”

Hence the multidisciplinary approach. Public health researchers will explore issues of vaccine demand and policy enforcement. Political scientists will identify incentives for bureaucrats and elected officials in each setting that led to prioritization of vaccines. Investigators from the business school and Georgia Tech will assess the use of technology and the role of multilateral networks to enable success. The team will also explore how the vaccine system fits within the country’s health system.

“Our goal is to provide actionable information to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance,” says Freeman. “Our findings will enable stakeholders to determine areas for investment and test new interventions that could catalyze changes in countries with lower immunization rates.”

Related Links

Freeman Research Group - Research in water, sanitation, and hygiene

Freeman Research Group - Vaccine Exemplars


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