Aim This study was designed to explore parental knowledge of the Irish Immunisation Schedule, diseases vaccinated against, severity of diseases vaccinated against, perceptions of contraindications to vaccination, fears/anxieties regarding a specific vaccine(s), and finally parental source of knowledge/information, all with a view to targeting methods to improve vaccine uptake rates.
Methods Prospective questionnaire-based study conducted on the postnatal ward of a busy regional hospital (3500 births/annum). Postpartum mothers (with conversational English) were invited to participate. Study period 1 June 2009 to 31 July 2009. Subjects interviewed and data collected as follows: demographics, beliefs and concerns, vaccines and contraindications—myth vs truth. Ethical approval was obtained from the hospital's clinical research ethics committee. Data analysed with SPSS version 17.
Results 386 mothers were invited to participate, 367 (95%) participated and completed a questionnaire; 81% were native Irish, 68% rural dwellers, 62% aged 31–40 years, 42% primiparous.
Primarily, rural dwellers were less informed and had more concerns regarding immunisations. 82 participants had concerns with MMR vaccine, majority of these were rural dwellers, 4:1. Additionally, primiparous women less knowledgeable regarding immunisation facts/schedule (see table 2).
Overall, 33% mothers confirmed a strong media influence in immunisation-related decision making. Finally, 59% mothers would attend postnatal education classes, if vaccination information included; 64% participants would like to see a compulsory immunisation programme; 83% stated school-based immunisation education should be introduced.
Conclusions Factual knowledge regarding immunisations is lacking in a significant percentage of Irish mothers, most remarkably uniparous and from a rural background. Postnatal education and/or introduction of information into childhood educational curricula should improve parental knowledge and ultimately immunisation uptake rates.