Date of Award

11-19-2009

Degree Type

Closed Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)

Department

Public Health

First Advisor

Russell B. Toal - Committee Chair

Second Advisor

Michael Eriksen - Committee Member

Abstract

Background: Pertussis, also known as whooping cough, is an infectious disease of the respiratory tract caused by the bacterium bordatella pertussis. In 2008, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended that all post-partum women not previously vaccinated receive the Tdap (tetanus, diphtheria and acellular pertussis) vaccine in the immediate post-partum period in an effort to protect their newborns from this serious infection. In response, some birthing units in the state of Georgia have introduced programs to administer the Tdap vaccination to their post-partum patients. The purpose of this study is to examine the availability, design and effectiveness of these programs. Methodology: Surveys were sent to 72 birthing units in the state of Georgia. The survey was designed to illicit insight into each birthing unit’s policies and procedures regarding the administration and dissemination of the vaccine to post-partum women. In addition, the data collection instrument provided information on which centers offer the vaccination to their post-partum patients, how successful their program has been in reaching the target population and what barriers may need to be addressed to increase vaccination compliance to this particular population. Results: The results of this study suggest that Tdap programs in Georgia birthing centers can be successful in reaching the intended population and educating patients and hospital staff members on the importance of this vaccination. The majority of birthing centers in middle and southern Georgia do not have Tdap programs. In addition, barriers to Tdap vaccination programs have been identified such as lack of funding, lack of available education resources for both patient and hospital staff and absence of available staff members to administer vaccination. Conclusion: The examination of Tdap vaccination programs in Georgia birthing units can assist policy makers and public health agencies understand how to best allocate resources in an effort to increase vaccination compliance. Further research needs to be conducted to better understand how to improve program quality and availability state-wide and to correlate birthing center Tdap programs with increased vaccination compliance in postpartum women.

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