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INTRODUCTION: There are vaccines in clinical trials that target the bacterium Group B Streptococcus (GBS). When approved, GBS vaccines will be intended for administration to pregnant women to prevent infection in their infants. The success of any vaccine will depend on its' uptake in the population. Experience with prior maternal vaccines, e.g. influenza, Tdap and COVID-19 vaccines, teaches us that acceptance of vaccines, especially if novel, is challenging for pregnant women, and that provider recommendation is a key driver of vaccine uptake.
METHODS: This study investigated attitudes of maternity care providers towards the introduction of a GBS vaccine in three countries (the United States (US), Ireland, and the Dominican Republic (DR)) with different GBS prevalence and prevention practices. Semi-structured interviews with maternity care providers were transcribed and coded for themes. The constant comparative method, and inductive theory building were used to develop conclusions.
RESULTS: Thirty-eight obstetricians, 18 general practitioners and 14 midwives participated. There was variability in provider attitudes towards a hypothetical GBS vaccine. Responses ranged from enthusiasm to doubts over the need for a vaccine. Attitudes were influenced by perceived additional benefits of a vaccine over current strategy and confidence in the safety of vaccines during pregnancy. Knowledge, experience and approaches to GBS prevention differed geographically and according to provider type, and influenced how participants assessed the risks and benefits of a GBS vaccine.
CONCLUSION: Maternity care providers are engaged in the topic of GBS management and there is opportunity to leverage attitudes and beliefs that will support a strong recommendation for a GBS vaccine. However, knowledge of GBS, and of the limitations of current prevention strategies vary among providers in different regions, and between different provider types. Targeted educational efforts with antenatal providers should focus on highlighting safety data the potential benefits of vaccination over current strategies.