A recent study led by Swansea University researchers revealed that younger women aged under 30, current or former smokers, those living with one or no health conditions (non-multimorbid), or those living in a deprived area were more likely to be hesitant about having the COVID-19 vaccination.
Vaccine hesitancy is an important consideration among vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, especially during the pandemic. The collaborative study, led by the Born in Wales team at the National Centre for Population Health & Wellbeing Research (NCPHWR), aimed to examine the impact of multimorbidity (those living with two or more long-term health conditions), smoking status, and demographics (age, ethnic group, area of deprivation) on vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women in Wales.
The study identified 25,111 pregnant women living in Wales who were pregnant between April 13 and December 31, 2021, aged 18 or older, and eligible for COVID-19 vaccination.
The team used the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank, based at Swansea University, to bring together data from different resources including general practitioners (GP), hospital admissions, national community child health, maternal indicators, and vaccination data. SAIL Databank is an anonymised data repository that facilitates data linkage. Linking data allows researchers to combine information from various resources to create a deeper understanding and quality of information to use in their research.
Results from the study
- 32.7% received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy
- 34.1% remaining unvaccinated throughout the follow-up period
- 33.2% received the vaccine postpartum
- Women aged 30 years or older were more likely to have the vaccine during pregnancy.
- Those with depression were slightly but significantly more likely to have the vaccine compared to those without depression.
- Women living with multimorbidity were more likely to have the vaccine.
- Vaccine uptakes were significantly lower among current and former smokers compared to never smokers.
- Uptake was also lower among those living in the most deprived areas compared to those living in the most affluent areas.
Dr Mohamed Mhereeg, the lead author and researcher from NCPHWR, said: “As we continue to live with COVID-19, it is essential to research the continued impact on our health and wellbeing. Research into maternal and baby health is crucial to providing rigorous evidence to inform maternal and child healthcare, policy and practice.
Our study revealed that multimorbidity, smoking status, age, and deprivation level significantly impact vaccine hesitancy. Therefore, we recommend a targeted approach to vaccinations may be required to reach and safeguard these groups.”
The National Centre for Population Health and Well-Being Research (NCPHWR). The National Centre for Population Health and Wellbeing Research is funded by the Welsh Government through Health and Care Research Wales.