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

Light at the end of the Eurozone tunnel

How and why Mercedes fakes the EU fuel consumption tests

Challenges remain in DPRK despite ‘slight’ improvements in health, wellbeing: UNICEF

Economic recovery won’t tackle youth unemployment problem

The role of public affairs in student NGOs

Two women threaten to tear the world apart

Can big events really go plastic-free? A water capsule made from seaweed may be the answer

Satellites and data are going to help us phase out fossil fuels. Here’s how

A day that Berlin and Brussels would remember for a long time

Russia and the West to partition Ukraine?

Youth policy in Europe not delivering for young people

Don’t compare data to oil – digitization needs a new mindset

Yemen parties underscore ‘strong desire’ for peace, UN Envoy reports

Baku forum to push back against ‘rise of hate’ with strong call for cultural and religious tolerance, says UN official

Is Germany yielding to pressures for more relaxed economic policies?

This is our chance to completely redefine the meaning of work

Earthquake: Monte Dei Paschi Di Siena

FROM THE FIELD: One teen’s journey from refugee camp to US school principal

How to end overfishing in the global South

MWC 2016 LIVE: CEOs issue rallying call to drive ‘gigabit economy’

Varna (Bulgaria) awarded European Youth Capital 2017

South Korea once recycled 2% of its food waste. Now it recycles 95%

The new Kiev rulers ask $35 billion from the West

Key Brazilian border crossing for Venezuela refugees reopens as asylum numbers pass last year’s total

The EU Consumer Policy on the Digital Market: A Behavioral Economics View

UN chief appeals for calm as Mali presidential election draws to a close

These coastal countries are sinking the fastest

This project in India helps people and tigers co-exist peacefully

Who is to lose from the 6-month extension of the EU economic sanctions against Russia?

Main results of Environment Council of 09 October 2018

Companies can help build a more inclusive world. Here’s how

Philippe de Backer of ALDE at European Business Summit 2015 stresses: “Reinvent your business”

A Sting Exclusive: “Regional Policy: a fully-fledged investment policy”, Commissioner Cretu reveals live from European Business Summit 2015

Yemen: Major UN aid boost for ‘up to 14 million’ as country risks becoming a land of ‘living ghosts’

Internet of Things: a Force for Good or Evil?

Rule of Law: The Commission opens a debate to strengthen the rule of law in the EU

Increasingly under attack, women human rights defenders need better back up

Half the world’s refugee children not in school, UN agency finds

A Sting Exclusive: “Junior Enterprises themselves carry out projects focusing on the environment”, JADE President Daniela Runchi highlights from Brussels

Europe’s poor investment in digital is threatening prosperity. Here’s what its start-ups need

This AI is working with a fleet of drones to help us fight ocean plastic

Corruption In The Balkans Is Impeding EU Membership

The West castigates Turkey’s Erdogan for the ruthless political cleansing

GDPR and the World Cup have these 4 things in common

Data is the oil of the digital world. What if tech giants had to buy it from us?

Iran: UN rights chief ‘deeply disturbed’ by continuing executions of juvenile offenders

MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

Brexit kick-off: a historic day for the EU anticlockwise

First-ever World Braille Day underscores importance of written language for human rights

Work to make the world a better place: 5 things you need to know about ‘green jobs’

The European Sting live from the World Economic Forum 2015 in Davos

This mobile laundry gives homeless people free showers and washes their clothes

Here’s how to make ‘value-based healthcare’ a reality

‘InvestEU’ programme: big boost for jobs, growth and investment

LED lights could stop turtles and birds from drowning in fishing nets

Traditional knowledge at ‘core’ of indigenous heritage, and ‘must be protected’, says UN Forum

This is the state of the world’s health, in numbers

Trade war or not New York bankers will have it their way

A new crop of EU ‘Boards’ override the democratic accountability and undermine the EU project

Further reforms will promote a stronger and more inclusive Hungarian economy

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