More training needed for Australian midwives to promote vaccinations

on 13 June 2019

A study has shown many midwives receive little or no training at all when it comes to informing parents about the importance of maternal and childhood vaccinations.

The study, led by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Australia, found that while midwives support vaccinations some felt it was not central to their role or felt they lacked information.

Lead Author Dr Jessica Kaufman said the study found that communication on vaccinations centred on the immunisation schedule rather than persuasive communication.

“Midwives are expected to provide vaccine information and to recommend maternal pertussis, influenza and hepatitis B vaccinations. They are not professionally required to discuss later childhood vaccines, but parents indicate that they would like more information about these vaccines during the antenatal period,” Dr Jessica Kaufman said.

Before this study was conducted, little was known about how midwives communicate about maternal vaccination in Australia and what resources are available to support conversations.

Most midwives, who took part in an interview, said they received little or no training to communicate information about childhood vaccines during their degree.

Some midwives said they felt they lacked sufficient information or felt they were not confident enough to talk about childhood vaccinations with families.

“All the interviewed midwives supported vaccination but some preferred to defer to other providers to discuss vaccines because they sought to remain the trust and rapport they see as unique between midwives and pregnant women,” Dr Jessica Kaufman added.

In Australia, maternal vaccination coverage is between 65% and 80% for pertussis and between 45% and 60% for flu.