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Promoting immunization to every parent

When it comes to vaccinating their children, many families hesitate. To promote vaccination for very young children and counter the false information on the issue, Dr. Arnaud Gagneur, neonatologist at Hôpital Fleurimont and researcher and the CHUS research center, has designed the Promovac strategy based on motivational interviewing. Soon after a baby is born, an immunization advisor meets with the parents, who can then voice their concerns and ask questions on vaccination.

The meetings with 2,800 families have yielded encouraging results.

According to Dr. Gagneur, the approach is both standardized and individualized. “There is only one message but the advisor will adapt the conversation to the parents’ needs,” he explains. “The aim is to strengthen the motivation of parents to immunize their children in an environment of empathy.

Following a successful initial run in Estrie, Dr. Gagneur broadened the study to four of Québec’s major birthing centres. The meetings with 2,800 families have yielded encouraging results: a significant increase in the number of children vaccinated. Indeed, the vaccination coverage among seven-month-olds rose from 74 to 80%. The meetings also helped alleviate mistrust toward vaccination. Going into their motivational interviews, 16% of parents had strong apprehensions about vaccinating their child. Afterwards, the proportion dropped to 5%.

In January 2018, the Promovac strategy will be implemented in the province’s 13 maternity units, in which 55% of births take place. Ultimately, the program could be launched across Québec. Dr. Gagneur hopes that the initiative will improve vaccination coverage and raise awareness among parents to help them understand why they must immunize their children and be glad to do so.