Background: The New Mexico Immunization Coalition (NMIC) has been engaged in a systems analysis process for the past two years. One of the recommendations from the process was to find out more about barriers parents face in completing their children’s immunizations by age two. While many studies have been done across the USA to find out about parents’ experiences, NMIC felt it would be useful to do some focus groups of parents in 5 different cities/towns in NM to better understand the local barriers, perspectives and opinions of parents with children who are not up-to-date with their children’s immunization.
Setting: New Mexico is a large state with many medically underserved areas. While Albuquerque is a major metropolitan city with one third of the state’s population, most of NM is rural with sparse population and long distances between communities.
Population: For the focus groups, we chose 5 locations across the state, (Socorro, Silver City, Grants, Santa Fe and Albuquerque) that had lower immunization coverage rates based on CASA data. One of the groups was conducted in Spanish and one in both Spanish and English. A total of 40 people participated in the groups.
Project Description: NMIC worked with a contractor to set up 5 focus groups over the summer 2009 to look at parents’ reasons for not having their children up to date on their immunizations.
Results/Lessons Learned: Focus group discussions provided information on barriers parents face with immunizations. It also provided insight to practitioners and decision makers to prompt new ideas to improve immunization rates. Continuing education is necessary, both for parents and providers to make sure that there are no missed opportunities. Parents receive a lot of misinformation about immunizations, so ongoing discussion about the importance of immunizations is critical.