Immunization Partnership Fund: Increasing confidence, acceptance and uptake of Covid-19 vaccines

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) invites eligible organizations to submit a letter of intent (LOI) for time-limited projects to increase Canadians' confidence, acceptance and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

This Call for Proposals is a two-step process. The first step is the submission of a LOI, which provides an overview of the proposed project. Applicants whose LOIs meet all eligibility criteria and best fit the objectives of this funding opportunity will be invited to move on to the second step by submitting a full proposal.

LOIs must be submitted by March 5, 2021.

Applications must be submitted using PHAC's Immunization Partnership Fund LOI Template. To obtain a copy of the LOI Template, please contact: phac.cgc.solicitations-csc.aspc@canada.ca with the subject line "LOI Immunization Partnership Fund".

Section 1: Overview

The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound impact on the health, social and economic well-being of people in Canada and around the globe. It has led to fundamental changes in our daily lives. Vaccination with safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines is fundamental to a return to ‘normalcy’.

Ensuring all Canadians have access to information on the importance of vaccination is a challenging yet crucial goal. Many Canadians, including those who have been historically underserved and marginalized by health and public health services, and those whose lives are negatively impacted by a range of social determinants of health (SDOH) including gender, ethnicity, occupation, homelessness, and incarceration, may require supports to help them understand and access these important vaccines.  For example, some groups in Canada experience barriers to accessing vaccines due to the lack of culturally relevant information. Newcomers, Indigenous peoples and those living in remote/isolated communities may require specific supports/information that reflect their unique realities. Other marginalized groups may be less reachable through mainstream mechanisms and require tailored community-based strategies.

Vaccine hesitancy and the spread of misinformation about vaccines has also been a persistent challenge for many years and has been amplified in recent years by digital social platforms. Instilling confidence in COVID-19 vaccines may be particularly challenging given the spread of misinformation related to these vaccines. Engendering trust, confidence and acceptance will require innovative approaches.

The COVID-19 vaccination campaign is the largest mass vaccination campaign ever undertaken. As such, it presents an opportunity to identify and address longstanding systemic barriers to vaccination - including acceptance and uptake of vaccines beyond those that prevent COVID-19. New and reimagined interventions are required to develop or expand tools, education, and supports for healthcare providers as well as strategies and resources to support community-driven solutions. There is no "one size fits all" solution, and a multifaceted approach, grounded in Canada's diversity, is crucial for reaching all Canadians.

Section 2: Objectives of this funding opportunity

PHAC is pleased to invite eligible organizations to submit letters of intent for time-limited projects focussed on supporting health care providers to promote and counsel patients on vaccination, increasing Canadians' confidence in vaccines and addressing barriers to acceptance and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Projects funded through this program must support one of the following objectives:

Types of project activities

Each project must implement and evaluate a relevant program/intervention to improve confidence, uptake, or access to COVID-19 vaccines in Canada. The project may be:

All projects must include strategies to capture and share learnings and promising practices about effective approaches, including tools and resources developed.

For projects specifically focused on COVID-19 vaccine, notional strategies should be included for the adaptation or broader applicability of the proposed project or intervention to support uptake of vaccines in general, should it be shown to be effective in the acceptance and uptake of COVID-19 vaccines.

Given the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and the potential for further lockdowns, applicants should include mitigation strategies and innovative approaches when designing their projects to ensure the pandemic does not impede planned activities. 

Ineligible programs, interventions or activities

This opportunity provides time-limited funding for project-based activities. Projects that seek core funding for ongoing operations or standalone activities will not be supported. This includes: conferences, symposia, and workshops, audio visual productions, when not part of funded project activities

Section 3: Who can apply

The following types of organizations are eligible to apply for funding:

PHAC is responsible for determining the eligibility of each applicant, its project and project-related expenses.

Requests for funding may exceed available resources. If your organization is eligible, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

Projects working with First Nations, Inuit or Métis populations

PHAC recognizes the importance of supporting Indigenous-led programming. Projects reaching First Nations, Inuit or Métis populations as a primary audience should be led by Indigenous organizations or by organizations that can provide evidence of meaningful and culturally safe collaboration with the targeted First Nations, Inuit or Métis community.

Applicant capacity requirements

Applicants to this funding opportunity, together with their collaborators, should have the necessary experience and knowledge to deliver the project successfully. This includes experience and capacity requirements to:

Applicants are encouraged to establish collaborative relationships to bring the necessary capacity to the project. For example, a service delivery organization might collaborate with a research partner to integrate both programming and research capacity. Collaboration is encouraged from the proposal development stage through to implementation of the project, if funded.

Section 4: Key requirements

Projects supported through this funding opportunity must incorporate the following key requirements.

Evidence-based

Evidence is a significant consideration of this funding opportunity to ensure that projects are results-based. Evidence is needed to support the rationale for the proposed project/intervention, the specific population being targeted, and the intervention being implemented. Evidence can include review of current peer-reviewed and grey literature related to scientific studies from all disciplines (for example, epidemiology, social sciences). Where evidence of the effectiveness of a proposed intervention does not exist (for example, because the intervention is new), the proposed approach must be based on a clearly articulated and plausible theoretical basis.

Health equity

While this Call for Proposals is open to projects addressing vaccine access and hesitancy in any population in Canada, PHAC is committed to promoting equity and reducing health inequities. This funding opportunity aims to promote health equity by addressing the systemic barriers that impede equitable assess to vaccines and, therefore, reducing disparities in health outcomes among population groups in Canada. Applicants must demonstrate understanding and consideration of the disproportionate effects of socio-economic factors that affect certain population groups in Canada. For example, applying a health equity lens would recognize and respond to differences based on sex and gender, ethnic or cultural backgrounds, migration histories, geographic locations, education and socioeconomic status.

Cultural safety

Promoting and improving cultural safety involves the understanding of social, political and historical contexts to design policy, research and practice that are physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually safe. Applicants must demonstrate knowledge and understanding of cultural factors relevant to their project, and integrate cultural safety into the proposed project's design, implementation and evaluation.

Section 5: Funding amount and duration

The total annual funding envelope for this program is approximately $9 million per year. The value of funding per project is a minimum of $100,000 total to a maximum of $500,000.

Projects should be a minimum of one year. All projects must conclude by March 31, 2023.

Applicants will be assessed on their ability to leverage in-kind and financial contributions that will contribute to the project's development and implementation. A specific matched funding ratio is not required. Applicants will be required to demonstrate that these contributions are secured if invited to submit a full proposal.

Section 6: Application process

This call for proposals is a 2-step process. The first step is the submission of a LOI, which provides an overview of the proposed project. Applicants whose LOIs meet all eligibility criteria and best fit the objectives of this funding opportunity will be invited to move on to the second step by submitting a full proposal. Applicants with ineligible, incomplete or unsuccessful LOIs will not be invited to submit a full proposal.

LOIs must be submitted by March 5, 2021.

Applications must be submitted using PHAC's Immunization Partnership Fund LOI Template. To obtain a copy of the LOI Template, please contact: phac.cgc.solicitations-csc.aspc@canada.ca with the subject line "LOI Immunization Partnership Fund".

It is anticipated that projects funded through this call for proposals will begin in summer 2021. Please note that timelines are subject to change.

Section 7: Other considerations

Official language requirements

The Government of Canada is committed to enhancing the vitality of English and French linguistic minority communities in Canada (Francophones living outside the province of Quebec and Anglophones living in the province of Quebec) by supporting and assisting their development and fostering the full recognition and use of both official languages in Canadian society. Projects must be accessible in one or both official languages depending on the reach and audience. For additional information, consult the Official Languages Act.

Gender-based analysis requirements

The Government of Canada is committed to Gender-based Analysis Plus (GBA+). GBA+ incorporates consideration of gender as well as other identity factors such as age, education, language, geography, culture and income in the development of policies and programs. Applicants are expected to incorporate these considerations into their LOI submission. For additional information regarding GBA+, consult Women and Gender Equality Canada's website.

Ownership of intellectual property

Funding recipients and their community partners will retain ownership and control over data and any tools and resources developed as part of the project, and will be responsible for publishing, disseminating and mobilizing knowledge developed through funded projects.

Section 8: Contact us

To obtain additional information about this funding opportunity, please contact: phac.cgc.solicitations-csc.aspc@canada.ca, with the subject line "Immunization Partnership Fund".

Glossary of terms

Vaccine hesitancy refers to a reluctance to receive recommended vaccination because of concerns and doubts about vaccines that may or may not lead to delayed vaccination or refusal of one, many or all vaccines.

Vaccine acceptance and uptake refers to the need to eliminate potential barriers to access, while acknowledging the challenges of hesitancy as well as many other factors in the way of acceptance. It also includes consideration of the important facet of maintaining confidence in vaccines and resolve toward remaining up-to-date with one's vaccination status.

Ongoing operations refer to the organization's core activities that are not directly related to the funded project.

Projects are a set of actions and practical strategies that aim to bring about positive changes in individuals, communities, organizations, or systems in a way that produces identifiable and measurable outcomes. For the purpose of this funding opportunity, the terms are used interchangeably.

Activities are considered standalone when there is no program intervention with a project audience. Examples include conferences, symposia, and workshops, audio visual production or website/smartphone application development and maintenance, when not part of funding project activities.

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