In November 2011, the new immunisation health target seeking to improve immunisation timeliness of young infants was introduced. The target is 95 percent of all eight-month-olds are fully immunised with three scheduled vaccinations at six weeks, three months and five months by December 2014.
To achieve this goal it is important to understand the reasons some parents delay their childs immunisation and messages that will encourage and support parents to immunise their infants on time.
The Ministry of Health commissioned qualitative audience research focusing on parents who have delayed one or more of their baby or young infant’s primary immunisations.
The findings will be used to develop cost-effective strategies that will futher make a difference to New Zealand immunisation rates and the health of New Zealand children and communities.
The research concluded that:
- parents who have delayed one of more of their babies’ primary immunisation events have a strong desire to protect them from serious illness and disease and keep them healthy and well throughout their lives. The tipping point for immunising their babies and children is around socialisation
- parents are aware of the recommended ages for immunising their babies, but they have little or no understanding of the importance of immunising their baby at the recommended ages or the consequences of not doing so on time
- parents believe they had legitimate reasons for delaying their babies’ immunisations (eg, their babies were unwell, or they lacked transport to get to appointments). Parents are more comfortable delaying their babies’ immunisations in cases where they believe their reasons for delaying are in the best interest of their babies (eg, in cases of unwell or premature babies). However, parents often feel guilty for delaying their babies’ immunisations where reasons are circumstantial (eg, not having transport)
- role of family/whānau and others when immunisation is delayed
- immunisation is a significant event and most mothers are usually supported by their partner or another female family member when their babies are being immunised these mothers find this support extremely valuable
- environmental factors, such as access and cost of transportation to get to health services; have a significant role in timeliness of immunisation for low-income families while most parents find immunising their babies in a clinical setting comforting, in case of reactions to the vaccines, most do not find it suitable comforting their babies in public waiting areas.