NIHR Global Health Research Group on Vaccines for vulnerable people in Africa (VAnguard): Concept and Launch event report [version 2; peer review: 2 approved]

Ludoviko Zirimenya, Esther A. Owino, Flavia Zalwango,Agnes Natukunda,Henry K. Karanja, Raymond Muganyizi,Gyaviira Nkurunungi, Achilles Kiwanuka, Victoria Bukirwa,Reagan Mogire,Monica Chibita, Emily Webb,Primus Chi,Alison M Elliott, Pontiano Kaleebu

NIHR Open Research(2024)

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Abstract
Background Vaccination is an important public health intervention, but not everyone benefits equally. Biological, social and structural factors render some communities vulnerable and unable to secure optimal health benefits from vaccination programmes. This drives health inequity and undermines wider vaccine impact by allowing the persistence of non-immune communities as foci for recurrent disease outbreaks. The NIHR Global Health Research Group on Vaccines for vulnerable people in Africa (VAnguard) aims to understand how biological, social, and structural factors interact to impair vaccine impact in vulnerable African communities. Methods The VAnguard project will be implemented through three thematic work packages (1-3) and four cross-cutting work packages (4-7). Work package 1 will investigate the biological drivers and mechanisms of population differences in vaccine responses. Work package 2 will support the understanding of how structural, social and biological determinants of vaccine response interrelate to determine vaccine impact. Work package 3 will synthesise data and lead analyses to develop, model and test community-based integrated strategies to optimise vaccine access, uptake and effectiveness. Work package 4 will plan and implement field investigations (community survey and qualitative studies (with support of work package 2) to explore structural, social & biological determinants impairing vaccine impact. Work package 5 will collaborate with work packages 1-4, to engage communities in designing interventions that aim to directly optimise vaccine impact through a process of co-learning and co-creation between them and the researchers. Work package 6 will build capacity for, and a culture of, consultative, collaborative multidisciplinary vaccine research in East Africa. Work package 7 will support the overall project management and governance. Following the project inception on the 1st of September 2022, project launch was held in November 2022. Conclusion Results from this project will contribute to the development of integrated strategies that will optimise vaccine benefits and drive health equity.
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Key words
Vaccines,Vaccine effectiveness,Vaccine impact,Vulnerable communities,Community engagement,Health equity,eng
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