In light of the highly uneven rollout of COVID-19 vaccination across the planet, we are calling for social scientists from diverse disciplines to brainstorm about the most pressing research questions around COVID-19 vaccines and vaccination. Our objective is to catalyze operational and critical research, particularly moving beyond research aimed at promoting vaccine uptake. Below are some initial ideas, contributors should feel free to reformulate and refine questions. You are also welcome to take inspiration from these questions for your research. The themes are structured according to the “social life” of vaccines. You are invited to review the list – which can be found under the discussion topic on this page – to propose additional topics and to comment on the current questions in the comment box below. Sonar-Global members will review regularly the comments and suggestions will be integrated into the list after considering their relevance and fit with existing themes.
Production-Supply (and provisioning)
- Technological, regulatory and economic conditions for vaccine production (including packaging) and feasibility in the Global South
- Mechanisms and regulations for vaccine access, intellectual property, economics and geopolitics of supply, legal immunity of manufacturers; global agreements to expand and promote vaccine access (Covax); “vaccine nationalism”
- Informal vaccine production and markets (suboptimal quality and counterfeit products)
- Infrastructure concerns, including shipping to distant/isolated locations, cold chain and storage in varying conditions; uneven infrastructures for receiving, storing and distribution
- Immunization policies: vaccinodromes, EPI systems, specific mass campaigns, integration into health care, role of the private sector and enterprises, identification of the vaccinated, role of patient associations and social coverage systems. Politics of boosters, which also affects questions of priority populations and which vaccine for which group.
- Priority populations: criteria and categorizations, what is “priority” and why these social categories were chosen? How to achieve consensus in the context of limited vaccines, modeling and impacts, prior diagnostics of vulnerabilities, financing modes, inter-country differences and regional framework, repartition: which vaccine for which group, and who decides?
- Vaccinovigilance: experimental devices/organization for monitoring adverse events, uses and detour, data production and interpretation, diagnosis of post-vaccination symptoms and alternative interpretations
- Equity in access: inequalities, populations at risk of non-access, access of the elderly, border management, vaccine passports: uneven policy landscape, ethics
Uptake-Perceptions among target groups
- Narratives of vaccination before and after, individual experience of adverse events and interpretations, social management of adverse effects, including the fight for legal compensation and the mobilization of associations of victims
- Voluntary or opt-out vaccination? Methods of informed consent collection and forms of consent
- Vaccination practices: studies on injection, support by community relays, intra-family impact
- Alternatives to vaccinations, if unavailable? (some prophylactic therapies tested now to reduce the severity of COVID)
Perceptions by communities and impact
- Comparative perceptions of different vaccines in social context, subpopulations, and among “vaccines ecosystems”
- Attitudes and perceptions of health professionals, scientific controversies, interpretations of side effects (labor concerns? workload and working environments? training and specialized supplies?)
- Impact of COVID vaccination distribution on the uptake and management of other vaccines
- Antivax communities, alternative discourses, social organization and underlying logics of protest
- Community participation at all stages of the process