CPHA Canvax

Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

Project Title: Improving Immunization Rates Among Pregnant Women in Canada: Working with care providers and the public
Funding Recipient: Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC)
Project Contact: Dr. Jocelynn Cook – Scientific Director (jcook@sogc.com)
Project Period: January 31st, 2017 – March 31st, 2020

About the Project

During pregnancy, women experience an altered immune response and can be at risk of severe complications due to certain infections, which can affect the developing fetus and neonate. A major challenge to developing comprehensive recommendations for pregnant women is the lack of research in this area. The main focus of this project is to explore issues regarding vaccination during pregnancy and to identify the practices and tools required to address them. More specifically, it will enhance understanding of the knowledge, attitudes and practices of both health care providers (HCPs) and women of reproductive age related to vaccination during pregnancy. This knowledge will be used to inform tools, resources and educational programs for clinicians, allied healthcare providers and women. The project will also provide information and data on vaccine coverage rates in Canada among pregnant women and the factors that influence their decisions, which can then be used to support the development of targeted programs that meet the needs and concerns of pregnant women and their antenatal healthcare providers. Ultimately, as HCP knowledge and practices are enhanced and patients become more informed, vaccination coverage rates are expected to increase.


  • To identify the current Canadian landscape related to vaccination of women, including during pregnancy.
  • To determine current knowledge, beliefs, attitudes and practices of women and women’s healthcare providers related to vaccination, including during pregnancy.
  • To provide education and resources to train women’s healthcare providers to counsel women about vaccination, including during pregnancy, and to provide vaccination services.
  • To develop tools and resources for women related to vaccination, including during pregnancy.


Short Term:

  • Identification of women’s healthcare providers who have contact with women of childbearing age and who have the opportunity to educate about vaccination during pregnancy.
  • Refined survey questions about knowledge, beliefs and attitudes of women of childbearing age regarding vaccination during pregnancy.


  • Gaps in knowledge and education about vaccination in pregnancy identified to inform training programs, workshops, courses and communication materials.
  • Information on the barriers, facilitators and strategies for vaccination in pregnancy to be used to inform, accredited e- and in-person courses and workshops.
  • Tools and resources collected to form toolkits related to vaccination in pregnancy.

Long Term:

  • Creation of a core set of healthcare providers who are and confident and competent in educating women about vaccination in pregnancy and providing vaccine services.
  • Increased knowledge about the barriers and misconceptions about vaccine use during pregnancy.
  • Changes to policy and practice for programs and services that better meet the needs of women of childbearing age.
  • Improved immunization among women of childbearing age, and during pregnancy which can then extend to their families and communities.

The challenge that the project addresses

Maternal vaccination coverage rates are less than optimal, despite the significant positive impact on outcomes for mothers and their babies.  A variety of patient and provider factors is known to influence maternal vaccination rates. By identifying and understanding the factors that contribute to low vaccination uptake, this project will design and implement effective strategies to optimize vaccination coverage of pregnant women and the prevention of adverse outcomes resulting from vaccine-preventable illnesses in mothers and neonates. This project aims to equip women’s healthcare providers with the tools needed to counsel and support women about vaccination during pregnancy, as well as to empower women with evidence-based information to make healthy vaccination-related decisions.

Lessons learned

Preliminary data suggest that much more education and information is required, targeted to healthcare providers, for them to be able to provide evidence-based information and recommendations about vaccination during pregnancy to women.

About the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada

In 1944, the Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) was established recognizing the need to promote physician education, research and excellence in care, public education, and advocacy on behalf of women’s health.  The SOGC’s mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy, collaboration and education. Over the past two decades, the SOGC has broadened their scope to include global women’s health and advocacy; Indigenous women’s health and awareness; multidisciplinary team approaches to care; public education and patient safety; and capacity building in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The SOGC has over 3,500 members, including gynaecologists, obstetricians, family physicians, residents, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals. 


Last Reviewed: October 16, 2018