Aim The varicella vaccine has been proposed to be added to the childhood immunisation schedule in New Zealand as the fourth injectable at the 15-month event. We sought to understand the perceptions of caregivers and health-care providers regarding the potential introduction of routine varicella vaccination.
Methods A qualitative exploratory study was conducted using semi-structured interviews with caregivers and providers (N = 20) in Auckland. Key themes from the interviews were identified through thematic analysis using a combination of deductive and inductive coding.
Results All of the participants were aware of varicella but levels of awareness varied among caregivers regarding the varicella vaccine. Participants expressed positive support towards universal varicella vaccination and a high intention to vaccinate if available as a routine vaccine. However, many concerns were raised about multiple injections at a single immunisation visit, and participants suggested alternative scheduling options.
Conclusion The results indicated a need to raise awareness among caregivers about the varicella vaccine, focusing on positive health beliefs about vaccination in terms of protecting the child's health and reducing the impact of a child getting varicella on the family. Health-care providers and government health authorities may play an important role in increasing positive health beliefs about the varicella vaccine. Should the varicella vaccine be introduced as proposed, our findings recommend an educational campaign to address both caregiver and provider concerns about multiple injections and how to manage alternative immunisation schedules. These insights may help inform national strategies for the proposed addition to increase acceptance of the varicella vaccination.