Vaccine hesitancy: a pregnancy related issue?

Pregnant

Photo of a pregnant woman in Olsztyn, Poland (Unsplash, 2019)

This article was exclusively co-authored for the The European Sting by Ms. Sophie Gepp and Laura Jung, students of Medicine in Berlin and Leipzig. Both of them finished a Public Health Masters at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last year. They are affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.


Vaccine hesitancy has become an increasing problem in Europe, which is directly reflected in the number of infectious disease cases. For example, more than 41 000 measles cases have been counted in the first half of 2018, which is far more than the total number of cases in any year of this decade [1]. A recent study shows that vaccine safety and effectiveness is perceived differently in European countries, and that these perceptions influence vaccine uptake [2].

But what does the term vaccine hesitancy mean and how is this behaviour distributed in society?

Vaccine hesitancy, as defined by the WHO SAGE Working Group, is a behavioural phenomenon, which “refers to delay in acceptance or refusal of vaccination despite availability of vaccination services” [3]. The term is used to illuminate the complexities present in the vaccine decision-making process, with hesitancy being context dependent and varying across time and place. Convenience, confidence and complacency are main influencing factors on vaccine hesitancy [3].

For one group, this decision-making process seems to be a particular burden – pregnant women.

Concerns that influence vaccine uptake during pregnancy may differ from those that affect routine vaccination. During pregnancy, women might be more cautions and feel responsible for the life of the foetus [4]. Studies show, that pregnant women tend to highly overestimate the teratogenic risk of medication [5]. They therefore have high information needs [6] and it is important for health care professionals to be aware of this.

In addition to the increased risk perception, various social norms exist during the time of pregnancy in different cultures which influence the decision-making of pregnant women [4]. Many women, who are in favour of routine vaccination, show concerns about immunisation during pregnancy.

Vaccinations during pregnancy, for example with the influenza or pertussis vaccine, are proven to be safe and effective. They can prevent serious complications for mother and child. For health care professionals it is therefore important to be aware of the concerns of pregnant women and provide the information they are seeking for. A vaccine-hesitant mother is not an anti-vaccer per se, but a woman in a difficult situation where she makes decisions for two and feels social pressure. This shows how complex the discussion around the anti-vaccer movement actually is. People who refuse or delay vaccines are part of a heterogenous group and there is no one-fits-all solution.

Only respectful communication strategies and evidence-based information can help us to overcome these problems and increase the numbers of vaccination. All health care professionals play a role in this and should take them seriously.

References

About the authors

Sophie Gepp and Laura Jung are the National Public Health Officers of the German Medical Students Association (bvmd) and have worked in other international organisations as UAEM before. Both of them have a keen interest in public and global health and are currently trying to make these topics more accessible for other students.

They study Medicine in Berlin and Leipzig. Both of them finished a Public Health Masters at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine last year. Laura also collaborated with the Vaccine Confidence Group and did her own study on vaccination during pregnancy.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

FROM THE FIELD: Urban Mexico moves toward better livelihoods, cleaner cities

Attempt to defy international law over Golan Heights sovereignty ‘doomed to failure’ Security Council hears

A critical European young voice on Net Neutrality: the distance between Brussels and Washington

EU to gain the most from the agreement with Iran

IMF’s Lagarde: Ukraine must fight corruption

Euronest: delivering reforms is the best way forward for EU’s Eastern Partners

MEPs vote for upgrade to rail passenger rights

UN must bring more women police officers into the fold to be effective – UN peacekeeping official

It’s time to switch to a four-day working week, say these two Davos experts

The Chinese retail revolution is heading west

Europe, US and Russia haggle over Ukraine’s convulsing body; Russians and Americans press on for an all out civil war

EU budget: the Common Agricultural Policy beyond 2020

Gaza investigators call on Israel to review ‘rules of engagement’ as Gaza protest anniversary looms

5 lessons for social entrepreneurs on how to change the system

In an era of global uncertainty, the SDGs can be our guide

Niger population’s suffering ‘increasing with each passing month’: UN Refugee Agency

Why impoverishment and social exclusion grow in the EU; the affluent north also suffers

GSMA Mobile 360 Series –Digital Societies, in association with The European Sting

What does strategy have to do with a platform approach?

Nicaragua crisis: One year in, more than 60,000 have fled, seeking refuge

4 key ways countries can finance their SDG ambitions

7 amazing ways artificial intelligence is used in healthcare

A day in the life of a Venezuelan migrant in Boa Vista, Brazil

JADE Generations Club 2015: Knowledge vs. competences – Do not wait for the change to happen, but make it happen

WEF Davos 2016 LIVE: “CO2 is not the problem, it is the symptom”, the pilots who crossed the world using solar energy cry out from Davos

Minsk “ceasefire” leaves more doubts than safety, with EU already planning steps further

Educational disadvantage starts from age 10

EU Commission: The banks are not obliged to finance the real economy

Mark Zuckerberg will be at the European Parliament today to meet President Tajani and the political group chairpersons

If people aren’t responding to climate warnings, we need to change the message

Ten UN peacekeepers killed in a terrorist attack in northern Mali

How will the EU face the migration crisis when the Turkish threats come true?

What we can learn from Asia’s courts of the future

End of plastic water bottles at European Parliament

How do we build an ethical framework for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Have we reached peak smartphone?

Infringements: Commission adapts its calculation methodology for financial sanctions

Ahead of key UN-backed Marrakech migration conference, youth recount harrowing journeys

‘We face a global emergency’ over oceans: UN chief sounds the alarm at G7 Summit event

Europe eyes to replace US as China’s prime foreign partner

From cheeseburgers to coral reefs, the science of decision-making can change the world

Two peacekeepers killed in an attack against UN convoy in Mali

More women and girls needed in the sciences to solve world’s biggest challenges

Neelie Kroes at the European Young Innovators Forum: Unconvention 2014

EU-UK: A deal synonymous to ‘remain’, England pays the Irish price

An alternative view of Globalization 4.0, and how to get there

Memoirs from a unique trip to China: “my new old dragon” (Part II)

‘The welfare of the Libyan people’ the UN’s sole agenda for the country, says Guterres in Tripoli

ECB should offer more and cheaper liquidity if Eurozone is to avoid recession

Eurozone closer to a deflation – stagnation trap

EU attempts to make new deal with Turkey as relations deteriorate

Afghanistan extends ceasefire with Taliban; UN urges both sides to work towards lasting peace

Why global collaboration is needed to protect against a new generation of cyber threats

It’s not just the protests. Here’s how young people are helping the planet

Has Germany rebuffed ECB on the banking union?

Why we need both science and humanities for a Fourth Industrial Revolution education

Colombia: New Congress marks rebel group’s transition ‘from weapons to politics’, says UN

Can free trade deliver cheaper renewable energy? Ask Mexico

Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s