Using social network analysis to examine the decision-making process on new vaccine introduction in Nigeria

Health Policy Plan. 2012 May:27 Suppl 2:ii27-38. doi: 10.1093/heapol/czs037.


The decision-making process to introduce new vaccines into national immunization programmes is often complex, involving many stakeholders who provide technical information, mobilize finance, implement programmes and garner political support. Stakeholders may have different levels of interest, knowledge and motivations to introduce new vaccines. Lack of consensus on the priority, public health value or feasibility of adding a new vaccine can delay policy decisions. Efforts to support country-level decision-making have largely focused on establishing global policies and equipping policy makers with the information to support decision-making on new vaccine introduction (NVI). Less attention has been given to understanding the interactions of policy actors and how the distribution of influence affects the policy process and decision-making. Social network analysis (SNA) is a social science technique concerned with explaining social phenomena using the structural and relational features of the network of actors involved. This approach can be used to identify how information is exchanged and who is included or excluded from the process. For this SNA of vaccine decision-making in Nigeria, we interviewed federal and state-level government officials, officers of bilateral and multilateral partner organizations, and other stakeholders such as health providers and the media. Using data culled from those interviews, we performed an SNA in order to map formal and informal relationships and the distribution of influence among vaccine decision-makers, as well as to explore linkages and pathways to stakeholders who can influence critical decisions in the policy process. Our findings indicate a relatively robust engagement of key stakeholders in Nigeria. We hypothesized that economic stakeholders and implementers would be important to ensure sustainable financing and strengthen programme implementation, but some economic and implementation stakeholders did not appear centrally on the map; this may suggest a need to strengthen the decision-making processes by engaging these stakeholders more centrally and earlier.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Decision Making, Organizational
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / organization & administration*
  • Nigeria
  • Policy Making*
  • Program Development
  • Social Support
  • Vaccines / therapeutic use*


  • Vaccines