“She vaccinated my baby and that’s all…” Immunisation Decision-Making and Experiences Among Refugee Mothers Resettled in Aotearoa New Zealand
Background To prevent disease outbreaks, refugee children must be age-appropriately immunised. This qualitative study gained an in-depth understanding of refugee mothers’ vaccine decision-making and experiences accessing immunisation services for their children post-resettlement in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Methods An interpretive description methodology involving focus groups with refugee mothers (N = 45) was conducted in Auckland, one of the resettlement locations. Mothers were asked about their perceptions of vaccine-preventable diseases and vaccines, their experiences of attending immunisation events, and their suggestions for improvements to immunisation services. Data were analysed following the phases of reflexive thematic analysis.
Results Four themes were constructed. Do I have a choice? Mothers displayed pro-vaccination sentiments and parental obligation to vaccinate their children to protect their health, which underpinned their compliance with the national vaccine schedule. Transnational vaccine perceptions and behaviours It was evident that comparing their health experiences in their origin countries reinforced their positive perceptions of and trust in vaccines, health providers and their recommendations, the health system and government in New Zealand. Information sharing with their transnational networks had the potential to influence vaccine perceptions and behaviours in home and host countries. Unanswered questions and concerns Mothers discussed how many of their questions and concerns about immunisations and post-vaccine management went unanswered. Relationships and experiences matter Mothers stressed the importance of who vaccinated their child and how it was administered, highlighting that health providers’ demeanour and competence influence their immunisation experiences.
Conclusions Health providers are encouraged to focus on creating a positive immunisation experience for refugee background families. Qualified interpreters and provision of culturally and linguistically appropriate information are required. Transnationalism at the individual level appears to influence vaccine perceptions and behaviours among refugee-background mothers. Future research focusing on caregivers with child(ren) who are not fully vaccinated would be beneficial.