Publications & Reports

Drivers of COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among women of childbearing age in Victoria, Australia: A descriptive qualitative study.

Oliver J, Kaufman J, Bagot K, Bradfield Z, Homer C, Gibney KB, Danchin M
Murdoch Children's Research Institute, The Royal Children's Hospital, 50 Flemington Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.


OBJECTIVE: Women of childbearing age, including pregnant and breastfeeding women, report higher COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, but reasons for this hesitancy are unknown. We explored factors influencing vaccine decision-making among women of childbearing age in Victoria, Australia to inform strategies to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake. METHODS: Twenty-four women aged 18-40 years were interviewed July-October 2021. Interview data were analyzed thematically using an inductive, constructivist approach. RESULTS: Of 24 participants, 14 (57%) were vaccine-hesitant, of whom 10/14 pregnant or breastfeeding. Six key themes were identified: weighing up perceived risks for self and baby; availability of information; change and contradictions; vaccination above everything; practical issues - hurdles of inconvenience. Vaccine-hesitant women’s concerns included safety in pregnancy, breastfeeding and fertility effects. Some participants expressed a loss of trust in healthcare providers following vaccine mandates. CONCLUSIONS: Public health campaigns and communication should be tailored to address specific concerns to increase COVID-19 vaccine uptake and prevent negative COVID-19 outcomes for women of childbearing age. Findings suggest that effective strategies to address hesitancy in this group may include providing robust short- and long-term safety data across fertility, birth outcomes and child development following COVID-19 vaccination. Other supportive strategies may include systemic changes like making childcare available at vaccination points (where practical), and using data linkage infrastructure to track post-vaccination outcomes.

Link to publisher’s web site


  • Journal: Vaccine: X
  • Published: 01/12/2022
  • Volume: 12
  • Pagination: 100240