Background: Infants too young to be fully vaccinated are vulnerable to potentially deadly influenza and pertussis infections. The cocooning strategy limits this risk by vaccinating those likely to interact with the infant and mother during this vulnerable time, such as close friends and family members. Distribution of accurate and accessible vaccine information through existing social networks could be an important tool in increasing vaccine confidence and coverage.
Methods: We surveyed 1095 pregnant women from diverse prenatal care practices in Georgia and Colorado. These women were surveyed through a mobile app to assess vaccine intentions, attitudes, beliefs, norms, and levels of trust, and then presented brief individually-tailored educational videos about maternal and infant vaccines and the cocooning strategy. They were then given the opportunity to refer up to six contacts to enroll in the app and receive similar vaccine education.
Results: Twenty-eight percent of these women referred at least one contact, with an average of 2.67 contacts per referring woman. Most referrals (93%) were partners, parents, siblings, relatives, or close friends. Attitudinal constructs significantly associated with increased likelihood of referring contacts included: intention to receive maternal influenza vaccine, perceived safety of maternal Tdap vaccine, perceived efficacy of maternal influenza vaccine, perceived susceptibility to and severity of influenza during pregnancy, and trust in vaccine information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and academic institutions. Uncertainty about infant vaccine intentions was associated with decreased likelihood of referring contacts.
Conclusions: Pregnant women who valued vaccination and trusted vaccine information from academic institutions were more likely to refer an educational app about vaccines than those who did not. Further research is needed to determine the potential impact of this strategy on vaccine coverage when implemented on a large scale.
Trial registration: The survey informing this article was part of a randomized controlled trial funded by the National Institutes of Health [clinicaltrials.gov registration number NCT02898688].
Keywords: App; Cocooning; Education; Referral; Social Network; Vaccines.
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