Examining spatial variation for immunisation coverage in pregnant women: A nationwide and geospatial retrospective cohort study in Aotearoa New Zealand

Soc Sci Med. 2023 Sep 12;335:116228. doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2023.116228. Online ahead of print.


Background: Maternal influenza and pertussis immunisation is crucial for protecting mothers during pregnancy and their babies in the first weeks of life against severe disease. We examined geospatial variation in maternal immunisation coverage among pregnant women in Aotearoa New Zealand and its health equity implications.

Method: We constructed a retrospective cohort including all pregnant women who delivered between 01 January 2013 and 31 December 2020 using administrative health datasets. Our outcomes were receipt of influenza or pertussis vaccine in any one of three relevant national databases (e.g. National Immunisation Register, Proclaims, or Pharmaceutical collection) during the eligible pregnancy.

Results: Data from our retrospective cohort study show significant regional variation in maternal immunisation coverage for both influenza and pertussis from 2013 to 2020. Maximal coverage was around 50% in the best performing regions, which means that half of the women who were pregnant (183,737 women) were not protected. In addition, we found significant spatio-temporal variation and clustering of immunisation coverage. Our findings are interactively available to explore here: https://geohealthlab.shinyapps.io/hapumama/ CONCLUSION: Our study is one of the first to examine spatial variation in maternal vaccination coverage in pregnant women at a national level over space and time. This provides powerful tools to measure the impact of interventions to improve coverage at national and regional levels, with specific reference to inequities between ethnic groups, likely applicable to similar settings internationally.

Keywords: Equity; Geographic information systems; Immunisation; New Zealand; Vaccine.