Introduction Vaccination during pregnancy protects both the mother and the foetus from vaccine-preventable diseases. However, uptake of the recommended vaccines (influenza, pertussis, COVID-19) by pregnant women remains low in Europe and the USA. Understanding the reasons for this is crucial to inform strategies to increase vaccination rates in pregnant women. This qualitative systematic review aimed to identify the barriers and facilitators to vaccination against influenza, pertussis/whooping cough and COVID-19 during pregnancy and identify possible strategies to increase vaccination rates. Methods We conducted a comprehensive search of electronic databases, including Medline, PsycINFO, CINAHL, Web of Science, WHO database, Embase and grey literature to identify qualitative studies that explored barriers and facilitators to vaccine uptake among pregnant women (PROSPERO CRD42023399488). The search was limited to studies published between 2012 and 2022 conducted in high-income countries with established vaccination programmes during pregnancy. Studies were thematically analysed and underwent quality assessment using the Joanna Briggs Institute validated critical appraisal tool for qualitative research. Results Out of 2681 articles screened, 28 studies (n = 1573 participants) were eligible for inclusion. Five overarching themes emerged relating to personal, provider and systemic factors. Barriers to vaccine uptake included concerns about vaccine safety and efficacy, lack of knowledge about vaccines’ benefits and necessity, fear of adverse effects on the foetus or mother and low perception of disease severity. Facilitators included recommendations from trusted healthcare providers, easy access to vaccination, clear communication on the benefits and safety of vaccination, and positive social influences from family and friends. Strategies for increasing vaccination uptake included strong and proactive vaccine recommendations by trusted healthcare professionals, provision of vaccines during routine antenatal care, and clear and consistent communication about vaccines addressing pregnant women’s concerns. Conclusion This review highlights the need for interventions that address the identified barriers to vaccine uptake among pregnant women. Recommendation from a healthcare provider can play a significant role in promoting vaccine uptake, as can clear risk/benefit communication and convenient access to vaccination. Addressing concerns about vaccine safety and providing accurate information about vaccines is also important.


Copyright: © 2024 Razai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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Razai, M., Mansour, R., Ravindran, P., Freeman, S., Mason-Apps, C., Morris, J., Majeed, A., Hargreaves, S., Ussher, M. & Oakeshott, P. 2024, 'Facilitators and Barriers to Vaccination Uptake in Pregnancy: A Qualitative Systematic Review', PLoS ONE, 19(4), article no: e0298407. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0298407

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Last updated: 03 May 2024
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