Vaccines incorporated into microneedle-based patch platforms offer advantages over conventional hypodermic injections. However, the success and clinical utility of these platforms will depend on its acceptance among stakeholders. Minimal focus has been placed on determining parents' acceptability of microneedle-patch vaccines intended for paediatric use. This qualitative study probes the perceived acceptability of microneedle technology for paediatric vaccination in a parent population.
Focus groups (n=6) were convened through purposive sampling of Cork city primary schools. Discussions were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, anonymised, independently verified and analysed by thematic analysis, with constant comparison method applied throughout.
The opinions of 32 parents were included. All participants declared that their children were fully vaccinated. Five core themes were identified and defined as: (i) concern, (ii) suitability for paediatric use, (iii) potential for parental administration, (iv) the role of the healthcare professional and (v) special populations. Drivers for acceptance include; concerns with current vaccines and vaccination programmes; attributes of microneedle-patch (reduced pain, bleeding, fear and increased convenience) and endorsement by a healthcare professional. Barriers to acceptance include; lack of familiarity, concerns regarding feasibility and suitability in paediatrics, allergic potential, inability to confirm delivery and potential reduction in vaccine coverage.
This is the first study to explore parental acceptance of microneedle-patch vaccines. Capturing the opinions of parents, the ultimate decision makers in paediatric vaccination, is crucial in the understanding of the eventual uptake of microneedle technology and therefore adds to literature currently available. This study has revealed that even "vaccine-acceptors"; parents who agree with, or do not question vaccination, will question the safety and efficacy of this novel method. Participants in this study remained tentative. However, the study has also revealed that endorsement by healthcare professionals could reduce this tentativeness, thereby identifying the role of healthcare professionals in disseminating information and providing support to parents. An increased awareness of developments in microneedle technology is needed to permit informed decision-making by parents.