Midwives’ Perceptions of Enablers and Barriers to Pertussis and Influenza Vaccination in Pregnancy and Information Sharing
Background: Vaccination in pregnancy against influenza and pertussis protects the pregnant woman/person and their infant against severe disease. Aotearoa New Zealand has a lower uptake of vaccination in pregnancy than some other countries, despite this immunisation being publicly funded. Coverage is also inequitable, with Māori, Pacific people, and people from high deprivation areas less likely to be vaccinated. Many barriers exist to vaccinations in pregnancy, e.g., access barriers and lack of knowledge about vaccination. Discussions about recommended vaccines with healthcare professionals, particularly midwives, may have a positive impact on vaccine decision-making.
Aim: This study aimed to investigate midwives’ perceptions of enablers and barriers with discussions about vaccinations in pregnancy, barriers to vaccination in pregnancy, and influences on vaccine decision-making in pregnancy. The study also aimed to gather midwives’ insights into what might improve vaccination uptake.
Method: A structured questionnaire was developed containing a mix of closed and open-ended questions. The questionnaire was sent out to 3002 midwives registered in Aotearoa New Zealand in October 2021, using REDCap electronic data capture tools. Simple descriptive statistics were undertaken on the quantitative data. The answers to the open-ended questions were analysed using a direct, qualitative content analysis approach.
Findings: Fifty-one midwives’ responses were included in the analysis (1.8% response rate). Almost all reported sufficient knowledge of vaccinations in pregnancy but had varying levels of confidence when discussing them. The most common enablers to conversations were good relationships, easy communication, and having the time and resources available. Respondents perceived that barriers to conversations were negative preconceptions, communication difficulties and lack of time. Lack of awareness, cost to access services and competing priorities for time were also thought to reduce the likelihood of vaccination in pregnancy. To improve vaccine uptake, respondents identified the need for accessible and suitable vaccination venues, appropriate information and the support of all healthcare professionals involved in maternal healthcare.
Conclusion: Midwives surveyed understand the importance of vaccination in pregnancy but there may be lack of confidence, time or resources to effectively engage in discussions. A trusting relationship is important but this can be affected by disengagement or late presentation to healthcare services. Resources to counter pre-existing negative ideas and support communication would help midwives to provide useful information about vaccination. Furthermore, respect and cultural understanding of hapū Māori and their needs will positively support their ability to make informed decisions.