Background: Vaccine safety concerns and lack of knowledge regarding vaccines contribute to delays in infant immunization. Prenatal vaccine education could improve risk communication and timely vaccination. This study sought to determine the proportion of obstetric practices and hospital-based prenatal education classes that provide pregnant women with infant immunization information, the willingness of obstetric practices to provide infant immunization information, and the proportion of first-time mothers who receive a pediatric prenatal visit.
Methods: A telephone survey was conducted of 100 pediatric practices and 100 obstetric practices randomly selected from the American Medical Association Physician Masterfile between January and March 2005, with analysis performed April 2005.
Results: Seventy-one of 100 (71%) selected obstetric practices and 85 of 100 (85%) selected pediatric practices participated. Sixteen obstetric practices (23%) reported providing pregnant women with information on routine childhood immunizations. Thirty-four of the 52 practices (65%) that did not provide such information reported willingness to do so. Ten of 51 hospitals (20%) did not provide information about routine childhood immunizations to prenatal class participants. Sixty-six of the 85 pediatric practices (78%) provided a pediatric prenatal visit. Among these, the median percentage of first-time mothers who received a visit was 30%.
Conclusions: Prenatal visits are a missed opportunity for providing education about infant immunizations. Incorporating immunization education into routine obstetric prenatal care may increase maternal knowledge of infant vaccines and reduce delayed immunization.