Understanding factors influencing vaccination acceptance during pregnancy globally: A literature review

Vaccine. 2015 Nov 25;33(47):6420-9. doi: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2015.08.046. Epub 2015 Aug 28.


Maternal vaccination has been evaluated and found to be extremely effective at preventing illness in pregnant women and new-borns; however, uptake of such programmes has been low in some areas. To analyse factors contributing to uptake of vaccines globally, a systematic review on vaccine hesitancy was carried out by The Vaccine Confidence Project in 2012. In order to further analyse factors contributing to uptake of maternal immunisation, a further search within the broader systematic review was conducted using the terms 'Pregnan*' or 'Matern*'. Forty-two articles were identified. Pregnancy-related articles were further screened to identify those focused on concerns, trust and access issues regarding maternal vaccination reported by pregnant women and healthcare workers. Thirty-five relevant articles were included which were then searched using the snowballing technique to identify additional relevant references cited in these articles. A search alert was also conducted from February to April 2015 in PubMed to ensure that no new relevant articles were missed. A total of 155 relevant articles were included. Most of the literature which was identified on hesitancy surrounding vaccination during pregnancy reports on determinants of influenza vaccine uptake in North America. Research conducted in low-income countries focused primarily on tetanus vaccine acceptance. The main barriers cited were related to vaccine safety, belief that vaccine not needed or effective, not recommended by healthcare worker, low knowledge about vaacines, access issues, cost, conflicting advice. From the point of view of healthcare workers, barriers included inadequate training, inadequate reimbursement and increased workload. Twenty-seven out of 46 (59%) articles mentioning ethnicity reported lower rates of coverage among ethnic minorities. Barriers to vaccination in pregnancy are complex and vary depending on context and population. There are wide gaps in knowledge regarding the attitudes of healthcare workers and how ethnicity and gender dynamics influence a pregnant woman's decision to vaccinate.

Keywords: Maternal immunisation; Maternal vaccination; Pregnancy; Racial/ethnic minorities; Vaccine hesitancy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Transmission, Infectious / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*