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Bloomberg School Faculty Receive Grant to Study COVID-19 Vaccine Implementation and Acceptance in Rural Nepal


An interdisciplinary research team at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has been selected to be a part of the Sabin Vaccine Institute’s Vaccine Acceptance & Demand Initiative 2021 Social and Behavioral Grants Program. The team is one of 10 selected from around the world that will conduct studies using a range of social and behavioral science approaches to investigate locally suitable solutions to support COVID-19 vaccine and routine immunization acceptance and uptake over the next year. It will be co-led by Daniel Erchick, PhD ’17, MPH ’12, an assistant scientist in the Department of International Health at the Bloomberg School, and Subarna Khatry, MBBS, the director of the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project – Sarlahi (NNIPS) and an adjunct assistant professor at the School.

Erchick and Khatry’s team will study vaccine distribution and acceptance in rural Nepal. The project, a collaboration between Johns Hopkins faculty and the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project – Sarlahi (NNIPS), will conduct the following activities:

  1. Describe the COVID-19 vaccine rollout demand generation and communication activities
  2. Assess vaccine readiness and acceptance of health care providers and community health workers
  3. Measure vaccine acceptance of community members in rural Nepal.

The study aims to identify the drivers of COVID-19 vaccine acceptance and hesitancy to support development of communication approaches for rural, low-income communities. Other Bloomberg School faculty working on the project include Rupali Limaye, PhD ’12, MPH, MA, an associate scientist in International Health, and Joanne Katz, ScD ’93, MS, a professor in International Health, as well as International Health doctoral student Porcia Manandhar. Other NNIPS team members include Tsering Pema Lama, PhD ’17, MSc, deputy director of NNIPS and an associate faculty in International Health.

“Understanding the determinants of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy is critical to the development of evidence-based communications approaches to achieve equitable access and high demand for these life-saving vaccines. Our implementation research study will investigate how public trust and social inequities are related to attitudes towards COVID-19 vaccination among rural communities in Nepal,” Erchick and Khatry said in a joint statement.

Established in 2019, the Social and Behavioral Research Grants Program initially funded three on-the-ground research projects exploring childhood and routine vaccination acceptance among communities in low- and middle-income countries. Now in its third year, the program has expanded to 10 grant partners located in eight LMICs, with research reprioritized to account for and respond to the impact of the pandemic on vaccine acceptance and uptake. Central to the objectives of the 2021 grant partnership are efforts to develop and disseminate evidence-informed knowledge and solutions-based strategies from the research. Learn more about the program at the Sabin Institute.