A new study summarized in a research letter published in JAMA Pediatrics reveals that a number of factors, including negative impacts from the pandemic during pregnancy, healthcare experiences, and reports of discrimination, made it less likely that infants received their recommended vaccinations in the first months of their lives.
Led by Principal Investigator Heidi Preis, the study serves as an indicator that a focus on vulnerable pregnant women, especially during a public health crisis, may help to promote infant vaccination.
Data that led to the findings comes from the Stony Brook University COVID-19 Pregnancy Experiences (SB-COPE) study. SB-COPE was launched in April 2020 and monitors 7,000 women across the United States who were pregnant during the pandemic. Preis and colleagues collected data from the women over time, investigating a variety of physical and mental health outcomes in mothers and their children. For this study, data on the immunization status of more than 1,000 babies born from April thru July 2020 was analyzed.
According to the research team’s findings, infants born to certain groups of mothers were less likely to receive recommended vaccinations by three-to-five months after birth, including mothers who lost income during the pandemic, those who were dissatisfied with their birth experience, and women who had less education, were younger, or cared for additional children.
The mothers most affected were those who had their prenatal care provided by telehealth and women who had a briefer hospitalization stay after birth: their infants were 2.6 times less likely to be fully vaccinated by three-to-five months of age. Additionally, the infants of women who experienced discrimination during pregnancy due to their race, gender, sexuality, or body size were 2.3 times less likely to be fully vaccinated by this age.