Dr. Spring Cooper, professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, along with a PhD student, Ms. Liz Hayles, examined pertussis booster vaccination among women who were having babies in a public and private hospital in Sydney, Australia. The study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The study was implemented because there have been recent epidemics of pertussis in developed countries. This is problematic for infants too young to be fully vaccinated and who contract pertussis from household contacts. A strategy to protect young infants is cocooning, vaccinating everyone in contact with a yet-to-be fully vaccinated infant.
The researchers recruited postpartum women from two maternity hospitals (one public and one private) in Sydney, Australia. Participants completed a self-administered knowledge and attitudinal questionnaire based on Health Belief Model constructs.
Vaccination rates were significantly higher among multiparous women, older women, those born in Australia, those who spoke English and women who delivered at the private hospital. Factors associated with prior vaccination include higher perceived severity of adult disease, reduced perception of susceptibility, higher belief in perceived vaccine benefits, and fewer perceived barriers.
At data collection only one in three postpartum participants was vaccinated against pertussis. This is insufficient coverage to protect newborns. The researchers concluded that practitioners are instrumental in raising awareness and addressing vaccine concerns. They recommended integrating vaccination into routine obstetric care, whether antenatally or postnatally, to minimize barriers.