Original Article | Volume 19: 22 | 14 Apr 2024

Experiences of Malaysian primary healthcare providers with vaccine hesitancy: A qualitative study

ABSTRACT

Introduction: Vaccine hesitancy was declared as one of the ten threats to global public health by the World Health Organization in 2019. It undermines the effort towards eradication of vaccine-preventable diseases. Healthcare providers, who are directly involved in vaccination services and vaccine advocacies, are important in combating vaccine hesitancy. Studies have shown that vaccine refusers have various reasons for refusal including distrust towards healthcare providers. Hence, it is important to understand healthcare providers’ perspectives. This study aimed to explore primary healthcare providers (PHCPs)’ experiences in dealing with vaccine hesitancy.
Methods: This qualitative study was conducted among public PHCPs across six states in Malaysia. Purposive and snowball sampling methods were used. Fifteen primary healthcare doctors and nurses underwent in-depth interviews. Recruitment was stopped when data saturation was achieved. Data were thematically analysed.
Results: Four themes emerged: 1) views towards vaccination and vaccine hesitancy, 2) disparity in strategies and resources used among PHCPs, 3) fixed-minded vaccine deniers and religious incompatibility: the two towering hurdles and 4) negative impact after encounters with vaccine hesitancy.
Conclusion: Malaysian PHCPs encounter negative experiences with vaccine hesitancy, impacting them negatively. These experiences are attributed to the challenges and lack of standardised resources for reference. These findings suggest the development of a more flexible policy, a training module inclusive of all professional roles and a standardised repository of resources for managing vaccine hesitancy.

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