Overview of Key Legal, Political, and Social Challenges Facing Global Vaccination Efforts


  • Nicola Sahar
  • Olivia Lee The Ottawa Hospital
  • Steven J. Hoffman York University
  • Lathika Sritharan Global Strategy Lab




global vaccine uptake, vaccine availability, vaccine distribution, cold chain, anti-vaccination movement, herd immunity, vaccine hesitancy


Despite the proven safety and effectiveness of vaccines, they are not utilized as widely as they should be. This article provides a high-level overview of five key challenges affecting the global vaccine uptake. First, availability is affected by the research costs and counterfeit vaccines. Second, accessibility is affected by distribution not being proportionate to need, and by poor infrastructure. Third, affordability is affected by intellectual property protections and costs of manufacturing and distribution. Fourth, appropriateness is affected by the way vaccine effectiveness varies and presents risks for immunocompromised populations. Fifth, acceptability is affected by controversies regarding risks and cultural objections.

Author Biographies

Nicola Sahar

Nicola Sahar is an MD and incoming Harvard MBA (2+2 deferred program). He is passionate about the intersection of healthcare and technology and is currently building a healthcare machine learning startup out of Toronto.

Olivia Lee, The Ottawa Hospital

Olivia Lee is a psychiatry resident at The Ottawa Hospital. She holds a Bachelors of Arts & Science from McMaster University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Ottawa. As a research assistant with the Global Strategy Lab (2014-2016), she gained experience in global health governance and knowledge translation which she has applied to projects on genetic discrimination, privacy policy, neuroethics, and the intersection between mental illness and the legal system. She has led health advocacy projects on both provincial and federal levels, and will sit as the Resident Doctors of Canada representative on the Canadian Medical Association Ethics Committee for the 2020-2021 term. Her research interests include the interaction between mental illness and the legal system, Medical Assistance in Dying, neuroethics and the mental health of vulnerable populations.

Steven J. Hoffman, York University

Steven J. Hoffman is the Dahdaleh Distinguished Chair in Global Governance & Legal Epidemiology and a Professor of Global Health, Law, and Political Science at York University, the Director of the Global Strategy Lab, the Director of the WHO Collaborating Centre on Global Governance of Antimicrobial Resistance, and the Scientific Director of the CIHR Institute of Population & Public Health at the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. He holds courtesy appointments as a Professor of Clinical Epidemiology & Biostatistics (Part-Time) at McMaster University and as an Adjunct Professor of Global Health & Population at Harvard University. He is an international lawyer licensed in both Ontario and New York who specializes in global health law, global governance and institutional design. His research leverages various methodological approaches to craft global strategies that better address transnational health threats and social inequalities. Past studies have focused on access to medicines, antimicrobial resistance, health misinformation, pandemics and tobacco control.

Lathika Sritharan, Global Strategy Lab

Lathika Sritharan is a Research Manager at the Global Strategy Lab, where she oversees the day-to-day operations of the lab. She has completed her Master of Public Health (MPH) degree from the University of Saskatchewan and her Hon. Bachelor of Science (HBSc) degree from the University of Toronto. Her research interests include immigrant health, health policy, and chronic disease research. Her passion for public health has led her to be actively involved in the Tamil Health Association (a not-for-profit organization in the Greater Toronto Area) as Director of Community Research and a board member of the Human Rights Internet (an organization dedicated to providing accessible information on human rights in Canada and beyond).




How to Cite

Sahar, N., Lee, O., Hoffman, S. J., & Sritharan, L. (2020). Overview of Key Legal, Political, and Social Challenges Facing Global Vaccination Efforts. Imaginations: Journal of Cross-Cultural Image Studies, 11(2), 127–153. https://doi.org/10.17742/IMAGE.IN.11.2.9