A study aimed at curbing risks associated with feared trailing vaccination rates among First Nations expectant mothers and babies will work with Aboriginal medical services around Western Australia following a funding boost.
Curtin School of Allied Health senior research fellow, Noongar woman and project lead Anne-Marie Eades said although the current data for mums and bubs is limited a need for greater access to vaccination is needed to ensure their safety due to greater
"What we do know is that Aboriginal people are less likely to have been vaccinated against COVID-19 compared to the general population, with the differences most bleak in Western
Australia," Ms Eades said.
The research comes after an $800,000 boost from the Australian government's Medical Research Future Fund tackling health disparities between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and non-Indigenous Australians.
"Our study will evaluate the successes, barriers and opportunities of Australia's COVID-19 vaccination program to reach Aboriginal women and their unborn children â" and potentially
target children under five in the event of an early childhood COVID-19 vaccine
rollout," Ms Eades said.
Ms Eades attributes a mistrust of health systems, misinformation, and a lack of vaccine literacy as factors creating barriers for Indigenous mothers, expectant mothers and women of child-bearing age.
The result comes with an increased risk of requiring intensive care, preterm birth and prenatal death.
"A pressing concern for pregnant women is about the potential impact of vaccination on their babies. Many prefer to be vaccinated after birth," Ms Eades said.
"The risks associated with Covid vaccines are far less than the risks associated and potential for very serious illness associated with not being vaccinated and getting the virus,
both for mum and bub.
"The current recommendations from the World Health Organization, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, and professional organisations are for pregnant, postpartum, and lactating women to receive covid-19 vaccination."
Still in its early planning stages, the research team focus currently sits at co-designing the study and building relationships with relevant stakeholders.
Her team will work collaboratively with Aboriginal medical services and communities around the state to possess a greater gauge of barrier points and hesitancy within First Nations families and set framework for education and delivery method going forward.