Pregnant women commonly refuse vaccines, and refusal of influenza vaccine is more common than refusal of Tdap vaccine, according to a nationally representative survey of obstetrician/gynecologists.
“It appears vaccine refusal among pregnant women may be more common than parental refusal of childhood vaccines,”, MPH, director of the Colorado Children’s Outcomes Network at the University of Colorado in Aurora, and his coauthors wrote in .
The survey was sent to 477 ob.gyns. via both email and mail between March and June 2016. The response rate was 69%, and almost all respondents reported recommending both influenza (97%) and Tdap (95%) vaccines to pregnant women.
However, respondents also reported that refusal of both vaccines was common, with more refusals of influenza vaccine than Tdap vaccine. Of ob.gyns. who responded, 62% reported that 10% or greater of their pregnant patients refused the influenza vaccine, compared with 32% reporting this for Tdap vaccine (P greater than .001; x2, less than 10% vs. 10% or greater). Of those refusing the vaccine, 48% believed influenza vaccine would make them sick; 38% felt they were unlikely to get a vaccine-preventable disease; and 32% had general worries about vaccines overall. In addition, the only strategy perceived as “very effective” in convincing a vaccine refuser to choose otherwise was “explaining that not getting the vaccine puts the fetus or newborn at risk.”
The authors shared potential limitations of their study, including the fact that they examined reported practices and perceptions, not observed practices, along with the potential that the attitudes and practices of respondents may differ from those of nonrespondents. However, they noted that this is unlikely given prior work and that next steps should consider responses to refusal while also sympathizing with the patients’ concerns. “Future work should focus on testing evidence-based strategies for addressing vaccine refusal in the obstetric setting and understanding how the unique concerns of pregnant women influence the effectiveness of such strategies,” they wrote.
The study was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No conflicts of interest were reported.
SOURCE: O’Leary ST et al. Obstet Gynecol. 2018 Dec. .