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Inequities increase in vaccination of pregnant women

Thursday, March 24, 2022   Posted in: Resources and Information By: Administrator With tags: vaccination, immunisation, women, inequality, research

Immunisation Advisory Centre media release: 23rd March 2022

Recent research adds to alarm bells that pregnant people are not getting vaccinated in big enough numbers. Pregnancy puts you at greater risk of disease making vaccination even more important for both you and your baby.

COVID has reminded us time and time again that vaccination is critical to keeping our communities safe from preventable infection, disease and death. It is urgent that we do more to support communities that are vulnerable due to inequity, poor health, or socio-economic disadvantage.

New Zealand has too many pregnant people in hospital with COVID disease right now who have not been vaccinated even though there are no safety concerns for vaccination in pregnancy. People who are pregnant are at high risk from COVID disease. Vaccination provides good protection against severe disease. that they are at higher risk of disease, and vaccination is safe and effective.

New Zealand researchers Leah Pointon, Anna Howe, Matthew Hobbs, Janine Paynter, Natalie Gauld, Nikki Turner and Esther Willing have been looking into vaccination coverage in pregnant New Zealand women.

"The team discovered that between 2013 and 2018 maternal vaccination coverage increased for pertussis and influenza. Despite this, coverage remains suboptimal, and existing ethnic and deprivation inequities increased," says Professor Nikki Turner.

"The work the team has done shows that there is an urgent need to focus on equity, to engage and support ethnic communities by creating genuinely accessible, culturally appropriate health services."

Research and policy analyst Dr Anna Howe says "our study indicates that physical access to a GP has little effect on increasing maternal coverage, despite GPs being the almost exclusive providers of maternal pertussis vaccinations and the lead provider of maternal influenza vaccination. The COVID-19 vaccination programme has lead the way for novel solutions to get coverage in hard-to-reach populations and provides an opportunity to create a more responsive service with a greater focus on equity for maternal vaccinations."

Read "Evidence of suboptimal maternal vaccination coverage in pregnant NZ women and increasing inequity over time: A nationwide retrospective cohort study" - published in Vaccine this month (Elsevier’s vaccinology journal).