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Scientific Publications

One Vax Two Lives: a social media campaign and research program to address COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in pregnancy

American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Volume 227, Issue 5, November 2022, Pages 685-695

The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected pregnant people by increasing health risks of maternal morbidity and mortality, stillbirth, and preterm birth. Although numerous studies have supported the safety and efficacy of COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy in preventing or mitigating the risk for these adverse outcomes, many pregnant people remain hesitant. Approximately half of US adults regularly consume news from social media platforms, which are a fertile ground for the spread of vaccine disinformation. The lack of information regarding COVID-19 vaccine safety early in the pandemic fueled vaccine myths targeting the fears of pregnant people about vaccination risks. Saddened by the spike in maternal deaths of unvaccinated individuals during the COVID-19 Delta variant surge in the fall of 2021, we created a social media campaign to promote scientific communication regarding the risks of COVID-19 disease in pregnancy and the benefits of vaccination. We called the campaign “One Vax Two Lives,” which refers to the ability of 1 maternal vaccine to benefit the health and lives of both the pregnant individual and their fetus. We present a blueprint of how we leveraged a large, interdisciplinary student workforce to create a social media campaign and research program studying vaccine hesitancy, which can be replicated by other groups. Community engagement and partnerships with key stakeholders, such as the Washington State Department of Health, were essential for amplifying the campaign and providing our team with feedback on content and approach. We present the analytics of our social media advertisements, web articles, and video content that helped inform the iterative design process of the multimedia content. Moving forward, we are launching collaborative research programs to study vaccine hesitancy and inform the development of new social media content designed for pregnant individuals who are: (1) Spanish-speaking Hispanic/Latina/x, (2) Black or Afro-Latinx, and (3) residents of rural communities in the State of Washington. Data from these mixed methods studies will inform new communication campaigns to reach vaccine-hesitant individuals. Finally, we discuss lessons learned and how the most impactful elements of the campaign can be translated to related areas of maternal public health.

COVID-19 Vaccine Hesitancy among English-Speaking Pregnant Women Living in Rural Western United States


Volume 11, Issue 6, June 2023, Pages 1108

This mixed-method study investigated vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women living in rural western United States and their response to social media ads promoting COVID-19 vaccine uptake. Thirty pregnant or recently pregnant participants who live in rural zip codes in Washington, Oregon, California, and Idaho were interviewed between November 2022 and March 2023. Interviews were transcribed and coded, while the ad ratings were analyzed using linear mixed models. The study identified five main themes related to vaccine uptake, including perceived risk of COVID, sources of health information, vaccine hesitancy, and relationships with care providers. Participants rated ads most highly that used peer-based messengers and negative outcome-based content. Ads with faith-based and elder messengers were rated significantly lower than peer messengers (p = 0.04 and 0.001, respectively). An activation message was also rated significantly less favorably than negative outcome-based content (p = 0.001). Participants preferred evidence-based information and the ability to conduct their own research on vaccine safety and efficacy rather than being told to get vaccinated. Primary concerns of vaccine-hesitant respondents included the short amount of time the vaccine had been available and perceived lack of research on its safety during pregnancy. Our findings suggests that tailored messaging using peer-based messengers and negative outcome-based content can positively impact vaccine uptake among pregnant women living in rural areas of the Western United States.

A Mother’s Dilemma: The 5-P Model for Vaccine Decision-Making in Pregnancy


Volume 11, Issue 7, July 2023, Pages 1248

Pregnant women are a highly vaccine-resistant population and face unique circumstances that complicate vaccine decision-making. Pregnant women are also at increased risk of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes to many vaccine-preventable diseases. Several models have been proposed to describe factors informing vaccine hesitancy and acceptance. However, none of these existing models are applicable to the complex decision-making involved with vaccine acceptance during pregnancy. We propose a model for vaccine decision-making in pregnancy that incorporates the following key factors: (1) perceived information sufficiency regarding vaccination risks during pregnancy, (2) harm avoidance to protect the fetus, (3) relationship with a healthcare provider, (4) perceived benefits of vaccination, and (5) perceived disease susceptibility and severity during pregnancy. In addition to these factors, the availability of research on vaccine safety during pregnancy, social determinants of health, structural barriers to vaccine access, prior vaccine acceptance, and trust in the healthcare system play roles in decision-making. As a final step, the pregnant individual must balance the risks and benefits of vaccination for themselves and their fetus, which adds greater complexity to the decision. Our model represents a first step in synthesizing factors informing vaccine decision-making by pregnant women, who represent a highly vaccine-resistant population and who are also at high risk for adverse outcomes for many infectious diseases.

Factors Influencing COVID-19 Vaccine Uptake among Spanish-Speaking Pregnant People


Volume 11, Issue 11, November 2023, Pages 1726

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic exposed the vulnerability of pregnant women to excess morbidity and mortality, as well as the disproportionate disease burden in certain racial, ethnic, and sociodemographic groups. Vaccine hesitancy represents a major threat to public health, and crafting messages that reach vulnerable groups and address their intersectionality remains a weakness for pandemic preparedness. We sought to investigate factors that influenced vaccine acceptance and social media ad response in a mixed-methods study of Spanish-speaking women living in the rural Western United States who were pregnant or recently pregnant between November 2022 and June 2023. Direct interviews were translated, transcribed, and coded, while the ad ratings were analyzed using linear mixed models. Participants most favorably rated ads that featured doctors and text-heavy content describing benefits of vaccination. Qualitative data illustrated how information from trusted medical providers along with generational and cultural history of vaccine acceptance positively impacted perspectives on vaccination. Immigration status had varying influences on vaccination perspectives. Future vaccination campaigns targeting Spanish-speaking pregnant individuals in rural communities should use medical providers as ad messengers and dispel fears that vaccine acceptance may lead to problems with immigration status.

In the News

Communication leaders in the fight against health misinformation
(February 17, 2022)

UW doctor fights COVID misinformation targeting pregnant women
King5 News (January 26, 2022)

One Vax, Two Lives: Making the case for vaccination on social media
YouTube: UW Medicine (January 24, 2022)