First-time mothers are more hesitant about vaccinations compared with mothers who already have children, researchers say.
The study, from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, involved surveying 975 mothers attending public hospitals in Victoria, South Australia and WA during their pregnancies.
It found first-time mothers were more undecided about whether to vaccinate their children, with 73 per cent making the decision to vaccinate while they were still pregnant.
Nearly 90 per cent of mothers who already had children decided to vaccinate, prior to delivery.
The study also found two thirds of all mothers believed they received enough information about vaccinations during their pregnancy, while six per cent of first-time mothers said they had not received any information at all.
Dr Margie Danchin from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute said first-time mothers were more concerned about vaccine ingredients, frequency and the effect on children’s immune systems than mothers who already had children.
She said the study showed the importance of education.
“It’s not just about providing vaccine facts, it’s actually about how the [health care] provider can communicate with the mother,” she said.
“We need to encourage the healthcare providers in pregnancy, mostly midwives, to have conversations early with mums, and to provide them with really good, solid, reputable information on vaccines that’s starting to address the concerns that they want answered.”
Maternal vaccinations a way to start conversation
The survey also looked at uptake of vaccines for the mother during pregnancy, examining rates of pertussis (whooping cough) and flu vaccinations.
It found 82 per cent of all mothers had whooping cough vaccinations during their pregnancy.
But only 46 per cent had a flu shot.
Dr Danchin said the result suggested midwives were a good vehicle for delivering vaccine information during pregnancy.
“We found that it was the midwives that were really recommending whooping cough vaccines for mum, compared to the GPs for flu vaccine in pregnancy,” Dr Danchin said.
She said the study helped highlight the importance of education, and different interventions to increase vaccine uptake.
“We’d love to see these vaccine discussions happening in that first trimester, where flu vaccine in pregnancy for the mum is discussed and recommended, whooping cough vaccine for mum is brought up,” Dr Danchin said.
“And then the conversation is started about childhood vaccine, that can be continued at a couple of other points during pregnancy.