Pregnant and lactating women’s vaccine decision-making process is influenced by many factors. Pregnant women were at increased risk for severe disease and poor health outcomes from COVID-19 at various time points during the pandemic. COVID-19 vaccines have been found to be safe and protective during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. In this study, we sought to examine key factors that informed the decision-making process among pregnant and lactating women in Bangladesh. We conducted 24 in-depth interviews, with 12 pregnant and 12 lactating women. These women were from three communities in Bangladesh: one urban community, and two rural communities. We used a grounded theory approach to identify emerging themes and organized emerging themes using a socio-ecological model. The socio-ecological model suggests that individuals are influenced by many levels, including individual-level influences, interpersonal-level influences, health care system-level influences, and policy-level influences. We found key factors at each socio-ecological level that influenced the decision-making process of pregnant and lactating women, including perceived benefits of vaccines and vaccine safety (individual-level), the influence of husbands and peers (interpersonal-level), health care provider recommendations and vaccine eligibility (health care system-level), and vaccine mandates (policy-level). As vaccination can reduce the effect of COVID-19 disease in mothers, infants, and unborn children, targeting critical factors that inform the decision-making process is paramount for improving vaccine acceptance. We hope the results of this study will inform vaccine acceptance efforts to ensure that pregnant and lactating women take advantage of this life-saving intervention.
Available online 15 May 2023