N.S. public health launches survey on barriers parents face in immunizing children

Lori McCracken, project lead and Dr. Daniela Kempkens, medical officer of health for NSHA’s Eastern Zone.
Lori McCracken, project lead and Dr. Daniela Kempkens, medical officer of health for NSHA’s Eastern Zone. NSHA

The Nova Scotia Health Authority’s public health division said it has launched a province-wide survey to better understand the challenges and barriers parents and guardians face in immunizing their children.

Letters about the survey were distributed to parents this week through schools. The survey is offered online in both English and French or by telephone, with translation services available as needed.

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The survey is specifically for parents of children born in 2011. It will provide Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) public health with a provincial immunization rate for this age group, a breakdown of immunization rates based on communities, and an enhanced understanding of what factors affect whether children receive immunizations.

NSHA said this group was chosen because they’re old enough for both their infant and pre-school immunizations, showing data for two important immunization milestones not currently collected.

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“The results of the survey will allow us to develop targeted solutions to break down the identified barriers on a community level,” Dr. Daniela Kempkens, medical officer of health for the NSHA’s eastern zone said in a media release.

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“Ultimately, these new initiatives will improve immunization rates in Nova Scotia’s children. That’s why it’s so important we hear from Nova Scotian families and capture different perspectives and experiences.”

According to the NSHA, ensuring children are immunized strengthens their ability to fight diseases, and high immunization rates are key for a healthy population.

Funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada through the Immunization Partnership Fund, the survey is the first phase of Nova Scotia’s Enhanced Immunization Access project. The project aims to move childhood immunization rates in Nova Scotia towards the national target of 95 per cent, as set by Canada’s National Immunization Strategy.

NSHA stated in an e-mail sent to Global News that currently in Nova Scotia 90 per cent of 2-year-old children received at least 1 dose of MMR, a vaccine against measles, mumps, and rubella, and 77 per cent of 2-year-old children received 4 doses of dTap.

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“We are aiming for 3,000 responses to the survey, which will allow us to understand in greater detail and with most confidence the opportunities we have to make childhood immunizations more accessible for all Nova Scotians,” said Lori McCracken, project lead.

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The second phase of the project will focus on enhancements to immunization services, using data gathered from the survey to inform the approach and tactics.

The NSHA said all information collected will be confidential and private.