Introduction: COVID-19 has infected millions to date, resulting in significant morbidity and mortality worldwide. Despite the development of several COVID-19 vaccines, the availability, acceptability, distribution, and uptake of these vaccines has not been sufficient for reaching the 70% vaccination rate required globally to end the pandemic. Implementation science is well-suited to address these issues, and recent articles have highlighted the importance of incorporating implementation science concepts into pandemic-related research. However, limited research has examined implementation outcomes that may be unique to COVID-19 vaccinations and explored how to utilize implementation strategies to address vaccine program-related implementation challenges.
Methods: To address these gaps, we established a global implementation science workgroup in January 2021 and met weekly for over a year to review both current and past literature regarding vaccine acceptability, adoption, feasibility, and more. We developed a hierarchy to prioritize the applicability of “lessons learned” from the vaccination-related implementation literature. Building on a well-known implementation science framework, we also collated applications of existing implementation outcomes. Finally, we identified specific implementation strategies to overcome common challenges related to the implementation of vaccination programs, which may ensure future vaccine program success.
Results: Our efforts provide rationale for the utility of using implementation science methods to better understand pandemic-related research. Furthermore, we identified three additional outcomes to better evaluate the implementation of COVID-19 vaccine programs-availability, health equity, and scale-up. Results also include a list of COVID-19 relevant implementation strategies mapped to the implementation outcomes, which can be applied at multiple levels to increase vaccine uptake.
Impact: Through the identification of three additional implementation outcomes and a compilation of specific implementation strategies that can be applied to increase vaccine uptake, the ultimate goal of this work is to prevent and reduce disease through the uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines.
Organization – Washington University in St. Louis
Pilar MP, Elwy AR, Lushniak L, Huang G, McLoughlin GM, Hooley C, Nadesan-Reddy N, Sandler B, Moshabela M, Alonge O, Geng E, Proctor EK