Frequently Asked Questions
What region(s) or countries will the project cover?
The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project will support low- and middle-income countries (LMIC) to equitably, rapidly and efficiently prepare for COVID-19 vaccine programs. The project aims to support up to 45 countries, with a focus on countries participating in the COVAX Facility Advanced Market Commitment (AMC).
Our team is actively working to engage a subset of countries to determine interest in helping us develop our working model, as well as assessing overall fit and alignment with other efforts. For the pilot, we aim to select up to four countries where our partnership already has existing ties to Ministries of Health. Following a successful pilot, the partners hope to secure additional funding to scale the project to additional countries starting in Q1 2021.
What technical support areas will the project offer for COVID-19 vaccine introduction?
The project takes a country-first approach, working directly with governments and immunization focal points to assess their readiness and preparedness, and co-create or inform country-specific action plans that both contextualize global guidance and reflect the realities of local service delivery. The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project aims to support both technical and human capacity development, leveraging Sabin’s Boost Community and other country support networks.
We will complement the global response and respond to country voiced needs, building from the Vaccine Introduction Readiness Assessment Tool (VIRAT) and National Deployment and Vaccination Plan (NDVP) developed through ACT-A/WHO and use these tools to understand country vaccine preparedness needs. We will then support countries in completing specific sections in their NDVP (as needed and determined with the countries), or fulfilling other minimum requirements to achieve country readiness. Deep dive sessions with Ministries of Health, WHO teams and other country stakeholders (e.g. Interagency Coordinating Committees and/or in-country COVID-19 response committees) will help to understand the underlying issues behind current challenges in country vaccine preparedness efforts. This will enable our team to link countries with existing tools and guidelines that can support country preparedness efforts, and specific support that is being offered by other global stakeholders/technical assistance providers.
During Phase 1 and Phase 2 of the project, we will carry out assessments to understand resources needed to support country implementation in Phase 3, which may include:
Designing (or adapting) a set of tools and templates for country-level decision-makers and implementers to use to operationalize action plans
Providing countries access to a pool of experts that can offer tailored surge capacity to address technical gaps and operationalize action plans
Implementing a digital information sharing platform that will connect and coordinate between global and national efforts, helping to rapidly share data and information, and deploy resources
Developing content that can support implementation based needs identified in assessments, for example adaptive leadership and community organizing content
Through close collaboration with ACT-A and other technical assistance providers, we will refine the type of support we provide countries based on the needs and challenges as defined by countries themselves, and to fill in gaps in global and regional response.
What is outside of the project scope?
The COVID-19 Vaccine Equity project is focused on preparedness and not the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine introduction campaigns. Our work will not address vaccine procurement or supply, surveillance, the provision of PPE or other non-COVID-19 vaccine preparedness covered by other partners or resources. We will not replace the role of WHO, UNICEF, Gavi, the U.S. CDC or other partners operating in countries, but rather, amplify the efforts from global and regional partners and make sure technical assistance is tailored to country-level priorities and needs.
What is the Boost Community and how does it align with the project?
Conceived seven years ago as the International Association of Immunization Managers (IAIM) Network and relaunched in January 2020, Boost is a global community that enables immunization professionals to connect with peers and experts, learn skills that build capacity and advance careers and lead immunization programs in challenging contexts. Immunization professionals can run better programs – enhancing coverage and equity outcomes – when they have access to the management, leadership and technical support they need provided through a community of their peers.
The Boost online portal is uniquely positioned to proactively address the needs of immunization professionals and provide support as they navigate the current COVID-19 crisis; specifically, challenges shared on interpersonal communication, vaccine demand and hesitancy, supply chain concerns, a return to routine immunization and COVID-19 vaccines. Now more than ever, immunization professionals must be equipped with a mindset oriented toward problem-solving, steeped in professionalism and grounded in resilience. Boost supports this vision through trainings, peer-to-peer engagement and collaborative learning. Since the network launched in early 2020, its membership has swelled in number and diversity, attracting over 1,000 individual members from more than 115 countries.
Recognizing the quantity of high-quality technical support, Boost’s core content offerings focus on foundational capacity building including adaptive leadership and community organizing. Adaptive Leadership – developed at the Harvard Kennedy School, over the past 35 years – is a framework and set of strategies and techniques for mobilizing change in challenging and uncertain contexts. The Adaptive Leadership framework is comprised of a set of tools and techniques for moving organizations, communities and teams beyond the status quo; key concepts in adaptive leadership include: distinguishing between technical and adaptive challenges, exercising leadership vs exercising authority, politically and leading without authority. Community Organizing focuses on equipping people (constituency) with the power (story and strategy) to make change (real outcomes). People learn community organizing from the experience of doing it, reflecting on their experience, and learning from their reflection.
Full uptake of Action Plans and the effort needed to disseminate capacity to those who will implement them requires active input and collaboration from regional, national and sub-national immunization professionals. Boost members and other immunization focal points will provide technical and contextual understanding vital to effective planning and enable rapid operationalization via both the Boost Working Group as well as regular opportunities for engagement including surveys, webinars and live discussions. A Boost Working Group comprised of national and sub-national experts will participate in action planning, ensuring that plans address the lived concerns of these stakeholders and benefit from their deep understanding of their contexts to speed approval and implementation of plans.comprised of national and sub-national experts will participate in action planning, ensuring that plans address the lived concerns of these stakeholders and benefit from their deep understanding of their contexts to speed approval and implementation of plans.
How is the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project funded? Are additional resources needed?
The Skoll Foundation is supporting the creation of the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project through start-up funding of $1 million to pilot the program in four countries. Following a successful pilot, the partners hope to secure additional funding to scale the project to up to 45 countries in 2021. To reach scale in 2021 as proposed and extended support through Q3 2022, we estimate needing an additional $15-20 million. This will allow us to maintain core project management and provide technical assistance to LMIC COVID-19 vaccine programs in up to 45 countries.
How is the COVID-19 Vaccine Equity Project working with global, regional and country immunization stakeholders?
We work to urgently and nimbly address needs, deploying philanthropic resources to mobilize immediate technical assistance and capacity building support as defined by country governments. Our goal is to provide catalytic support with a long term aim of supporting countries to sustainably drive COVID-19 vaccination programming and build capacity for life course immunization. We work at the behest of country governments and through coordination with Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) and specifically its Country Readiness and Delivery (CRaD) work stream, Gavi Country Support Teams, the U.S. CDC, regional working groups, key national decision-makers and mobilizers from Ministries of Health, Ministries of Finance, Emergency Operations Centers and frontline immunization staff through Sabin’s Boost Community.