The collected data were grouped into 4 subgroups:
- study group characteristics,
- vaccination-related data,
- infectious diseases during pregnancy,
- attitude towards anti-vaccine movements and chickenpox parties.
Study group characteristics
The study group consisted of 2402 women planning pregnancy or having children. The age range was 16-54 years (median: 31 years). The most numerous group consisted of women living in cities > 100,000 inhabitants (n=1194/2402, 49.7%), with higher education (n=1726/2402, 71.9%), married (n=1841/2402, 76.6%) and in a stable relationship (n= 2329/2402, 97%). Most of the surveyed women had been once pregnant (n=1009/2402, 42%) and gave birth once (n=1211/2402, 50.4%). When implementing the survey, 788/2402 (32.8%) of women were pregnant. The survey also checked if women have contact with school-age children (1491/2402, 62.1%) and the source of their knowledge about vaccines, which was mostly medical staff (1848/2402, 76.9%). Baseline characteristics of the study group are presented in Table 2.
The survey analyzed the vaccination coverage among Polish women. The analysis included whether the women were vaccinated appropriately when planning pregnancy, and whether these vaccinations were recommended by doctors. It was verified, whether women were vaccinated during pregnancy against the diseases according to recommendations. The study also checked women’s willingness to vaccinate their children, and if they consider vaccination to be safe and effective against infectious diseases.
Most women had been previously vaccinated according to their vaccination schedule [against tuberculosis, hepatitis B, DTP, MMR, polio (n=1283/2402, 53.4% for polio to 1728/2402, 71.9% for DTP) almost a quarter of women did not remember what infectious diseases they were vaccinated against in the past (n=566/2402, 23.6%) (Figure 1A). The vast majority of women had not been vaccinated while planning pregnancy (n=2069/2402, 86.1%) (Figure 1B). This may be due to the fact that physicians often do not recommend vaccinations before the pregnancy (n=1989/2402, 82.2%). The study shows that only about 3% (67-91/2402, 2.8-3.8%) of physicians recommended vaccination against influenza or pertussis to pregnant women. Nonetheless 1712/2402 (71.27%) of women have a positive attitude towards vaccinations. It was more common among nulliparous, younger women living in more populous cities (Table 3). Seventy one point three percent (n=1712/2402) of women consider vaccinations necessary for their children’s health. Sixty four point three percent (n=1544/2402) of respondents consider vaccinations safe for their children, while Seventy nine point three percent (n=1905/2402) consider them effective in preventing infectious diseases.
Infectious diseases during pregnancy
The study also checked women's knowledge of the risk associated with infectious diseases during pregnancy. Polish women were also asked about the most dangerous, in their opinion, pathogenic factors that may affect the development of the fetus (Table 4). Seventy three percent (n=1752/2402) of women have never heard the acronym TORCH. The vast majority of women know that fetal birth defects can be caused by infectious agents (n=1718/2402, 74.1%), but almost a quarter were not aware of this fact (n=544/2402, 22.6%). Among the 5 most dangerous in surveyed women’s opinion infectious diseases for the fetus, were: toxoplasmosis (n=1594/2402, 66.4%), rubella (n=1195/2402, 49.8%), CMV (n=912/2402, 38%), HIV (n=810/2402, 33.7%) and measles (n=643/2402, 26.8%). According to respondents, the 5 most dangerous fetal defects caused by infectious agents were: nervous system defects (n=1599/2402, 66.6%), heart defects (n=1549/2402, 64.5%), intrauterine death (n=1445/2402, 60.2%), extremities hypoplasia (n=1009/2402, 42%), and body mass deficiency (n=729/2402, 30.3%).
Attitude towards anti-vaccine movements and chickenpox parties
Fifty seven percent (n=1350/2402) of the surveyed women fully disagree with anti-vaccine movements, 22.9% (n=549/2402) partially agree, and 11.8% (n=284/2402) have no opinion and 6.2% (n=149/2402) fully agree. In case of chickenpox party, as much as 83.1% (n=2013/2402) of women consider this phenomenon dangerous for children’s health, 12.3% (n=296/2402) have no opinion on this matter, and 3.9% (n=93/2402) consider it a good way for children to acquire immunity. Women living in cities > 100,000 inhabitants considered chickenpox party more often as a dangerous phenomenon for children's health (51.19%, n=989 vs. 43.62%, n=205, p=0.04).