Uptake of influenza vaccination in pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women: A mixed methods study

Influenza is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in pregnant women. In Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations, the burden of influenza is substantially higher, particularly during pandemics, and mechanisms to avoid excess morbidity and mortality need to be culturally specific. Influenza vaccination is recommended during pregnancy in several countries, including Australia, yet data on the uptake of vaccine and the determinants of vaccination in the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander populations are scarce. This Menzies School of Health Research pilot study examined the uptake of influenza vaccine during pregnancy among Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women from two urban/inner regional communities in South East Queensland. The mixed method study approach comprised three components: analysis of data, community-based cross-sectional surveys, and yarning circles.

Benefits and outcomes

  • Involvement of Aboriginal research staff within participating health services and associated follow up provided a culturally appropriate approach to data collection, capacity building for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff, students and health service providers.
  • Study identified factors that would need to be considered in future studies, with an urgent need to repeat the study on a larger scale and in a broader cross-section of communities. Influenza vaccination uptake during pregnancy in Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander women may be low, due to:
    • a lack of knowledge of the recommendations for vaccination, and/or lack of socio-culturally appropriate education
    • health service providers not universally offering the vaccine
    • cost of the vaccine and logistics of being vaccinated even if it is offered, e.g. not having the vaccination available on site and needing to return at a later date with a script.
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