Implementing the Co-Immune Open Innovation Program to Address Vaccination Hesitancy and Access to Vaccines: Retrospective Study

J Particip Med. 2022 Jan 21;14(1):e32125. doi: 10.2196/32125.


Background: The rise of major complex public health problems, such as vaccination hesitancy and access to vaccination, requires innovative, open, and transdisciplinary approaches. Yet, institutional silos and lack of participation on the part of nonacademic citizens in the design of solutions hamper efforts to meet these challenges. Against this background, new solutions have been explored, with participatory research, citizen science, hackathons, and challenge-based approaches being applied in the context of public health.

Objective: Our aim was to develop a program for creating citizen science and open innovation projects that address the contemporary challenges of vaccination in France and around the globe.

Methods: We designed and implemented Co-Immune, a program created to tackle the question of vaccination hesitancy and access to vaccination through an online and offline challenge-based open innovation approach. The program was run on the open science platform Just One Giant Lab.

Results: Over a 6-month period, the Co-Immune program gathered 234 participants of diverse backgrounds and 13 partners from the public and private sectors. The program comprised 10 events to facilitate the creation of 20 new projects, as well as the continuation of two existing projects, to address the issues of vaccination hesitancy and access, ranging from app development and data mining to analysis and game design. In an open framework, the projects made their data, code, and solutions publicly available.

Conclusions: Co-Immune highlights how open innovation approaches and online platforms can help to gather and coordinate noninstitutional communities in a rapid, distributed, and global way toward solving public health issues. Such initiatives can lead to the production and transfer of knowledge, creating novel solutions in the public health sector. The example of Co-Immune contributes to paving the way for organizations and individuals to collaboratively tackle future global challenges.

Keywords: access; collective intelligence; design; framework; immunization; implementation; innovation; open innovation; open science; participatory; programmatic research; public health; vaccination access; vaccine; vaccine hesitancy; web based.