The effectiveness of an online module for midwives conducting antenatal pertussis vaccinations
An online education programme was developed to support midwives and maternity staff to implement the New South Wales antenatal pertussis vaccination programme from March 2015.
To determine if an educational programme met the needs of midwives and maternity staff to conduct an immunisation appointment confidently with a pregnant woman.
Pre- and post-surveys were conducted with learners completing the programme.
Before completing the programme, 57% of respondents reported feeling ‘confident’ or ‘very confident’ in conducting a vaccination encounter with a pregnant woman. This increased to 94.1% after completion of the programme.
The education programme met the needs of midwives and maternity staff in New South Wales. An informed and confident maternity workforce will increase vaccine uptake in pregnant women and ensure that pertussis vaccination is incorporated consistently into routine antenatal care, to protect vulnerable infants from life-threatening diseases such as pertussis and influenza.
There has been a resurgence in pertussis, with the highest incidence and complication rates in young infants, and deaths occurring mainly before 3 months of age (Healy, 2016). The most effective way to protect young infants, who are disproportionately burdened by pertussis, is through maternal vaccination (Omer, 2017). In response to increasing pertussis incidence in infants in New South Wales (NSW), Australia (Nicholl et al, 2018), NSW Health implemented a maternal pertussis vaccination scheme, offering diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccines to all women in their third trimester of pregnancy.
Previous studies have reported on the importance of educating health professionals to improve maternal vaccination rates (Eppes et al, 2012; 2013; Kfouri and Richtmann, 2013), which is vital to the success of a vaccination programme (Wiley et al, 2013a). The decision of a pregnant woman to consent to vaccination relies on how much importance the midwife places on the vaccine, which also determines the midwife's level of engagement in programme implementation (Robbins et al, 2011). An Australian study found that midwives' perceived self-efficacy regarding vaccination was the most important factor in the vaccination of postpartum mothers (Robbins et al, 2011). When discussing immunisation with pregnant women, it is important to state that it offers protection for both the infant and the woman, as this may increase vaccine uptake (Wiley et al, 2015). Midwives therefore need to be well informed and prepared to address women's concerns as well as increasing women's confidence and trust.
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