In early 2015, the Ministry of Health commissioned Litmus Ltd to conduct audience research with pregnant women and women who had given birth in the last 12 months to understand their knowledge and attitudes to immunisation against influenza and whooping cough, and enablers and barriers to immunisation in pregnancy.
This audience research talked to 59 women and found that for these women the most significant barriers to immunisation uptake in pregnancy were a lack of accessible information and advice on immunisation, and structural barriers for accessing services. Women’s beliefs and motivation to be immunised varied and were also potential barriers to immunising during pregnancy for flu and whooping cough.
The Ministry will be using its findings to inform the development of new resources about maternal immunisation for health professionals and pregnant women, and will be working with the sector further in the coming months to build upon its recommendations.
The research concluded that:
- the most significant barrier to immunisation uptake in pregnancy is a lack of accessible information and advice on immunisation from LMCs and structural barriers for accessing services through general practices. Women’s beliefs and motivation to be immunised varied and were also potential barriers to immunising during pregnancy for flu and whooping cough
- Māori and Pacific pregnant women face more barriers to immunisation in pregnancy than Pākehā pregnant women. They are less likely to receive effective immunisation information from their LMCs, and face more barriers accessing immunisation through general practices
- There are opportunities for improvement for Māori and Pacific pregnant women and their LMCs
- Messages that talk about immunisation protecting unborn babies from the consequences of infection are persuasive. Messages that say immunisation is safe in pregnancy provide reassurance to pregnant women who are concerned about the safety of vaccines for their unborn babies. Messages that say influenza is serious for unborn babies make pregnant women who do not consider influenza serious to take notice. Messages that say immunisation is free for pregnant women resonate particularly strongly with Māori and Pacific pregnant women
- Traditional print media is not cutting through to all pregnant women and social media tools need to be considered for sharing relevant immunisation content.