Current practice and attitudes towards vaccination during pregnancy: a survey of GPs across England

Br J Gen Pract. 2020 Jan 30;70(691):e179-e185. doi: 10.3399/bjgp20X708113. Print 2020 Feb.


Background: Antenatal vaccines are commonly delivered in primary care, yet the views of GPs regarding these programmes have been neglected in research to date.

Aim: To establish the attitudes and current practice of GPs towards antenatal vaccination and their views on the optimal location for delivery of this service.

Design and setting: A multicentre online survey questionnaire.

Method: A questionnaire was sent to GPs across England between December 2018 and January 2019.

Results: The majority of 1586 responders considered antenatal vaccination safe (96% for influenza, 89% pertussis). GPs were significantly less confident in their knowledge of pertussis compared with influenza vaccination (64% versus 80% were confident, P<0.001), and many desired further education (59% versus 48%, P<0.001). Few (37%) discussed vaccination with pregnant women regularly, but most (80%) felt their recommendation would influence decision making. Those with greater confidence in their knowledge of pertussis and influenza vaccination, and who were >2 years since qualifying, discussed vaccination significantly more often (odds ratio [OR] 3.52, P<0.001; OR 2.34, P = 0.001; OR 1.76, P = 0.003, respectively), regardless of whether they routinely saw pregnant women. Most (83%) reported that antenatal vaccination was GP led in their region, yet only 26% thought it should be primarily GP based. GPs expressed disconnect from antenatal care, and many suggested that midwives and/or secondary care should take greater responsibility for the delivery of antenatal vaccination.

Conclusion: There is support among GPs to embed vaccination programmes within routine antenatal care. Further educational resources, specifically designed for the needs of GPs, are needed to facilitate opportunistic discussion with pregnant women about vaccination.