Weighing up the risks — Vaccine decision-making in pregnancy and parenting

Published:February 18, 2022DOI:



      Immunisation is universally accepted as one of the most significant health initiatives in recent times. However, vaccine hesitancy is increasing in Australia and other high- and middle-income countries. There is evidence to suggest that many parents, even those who elect to immunise, may have a degree of vaccine hesitancy. The recommendation of a healthcare professional is a predictor for vaccine uptake.


      The purpose of this study was to explore the values, beliefs and choices made by vaccine hesitant parents and pregnant women, regarding their decision not to vaccinate their child or children. The aim being to determine the factors that influence this decision making and to give a voice to vaccine hesitant parents.


      A qualitative exploratory online survey of 106 vaccine hesitant parents and pregnant women was conducted in 2021. The survey utilised closed and open-ended questions.


      Pregnant women and parents obtained most of their immunisation education from nurses, midwives, and general practitioners. Vaccine decision-making was however, influenced by multiple factors including vaccine safety concerns, the sources of information accessed, and a previous negative immunisation experience. Other influential factors included the use of alternative therapies, diet, and lifestyle factors.


      Along with general practitioners, nurses and midwives are a popular, respected and a vital source in the provision of accurate and timely immunisation education. However, further education is required at an undergraduate level to adequately prepare them for their role of listening to and educating vaccine hesitant pregnant women and parents.


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