Albania is facing decreasing childhood immunisation coverage and delay in timeliness of vaccination despite a growing economy and universal health insurance. Our aim is to estimate childhood immunisation timeliness and vaccine confidence associated with health information source, maternal, socioeconomic, and geographic characteristics in Albania.
We used the 2017–2018 Albania Demographic and Health Survey to analyse childhood immunisation timeliness and vaccine confidence among 2113 and 1795 mothers of under-5-year-old children respectively using simple and multivariable logistic regression.
Among mothers of under-5-year-old children in Albania, 78.1% [95% CI: 74.3, 81.5] never postponed or rejected childhood vaccines. Immunisation delay was reported by 21.3% [18.0, 25.1] of mothers, but a majority (67.0%) were caused by the infant’s sickness at the time of vaccination, while a minority (6.1%) due to mothers’ concerns about vaccine safety and side effects. Vaccine confidence was high among the mothers at 92.9% [91.0, 94.4] with similar geographical patterns to immunisation timeliness. Among 1.3% of mothers who ever refused vaccination of their children, the main concerns were about vaccine safety (47.8%) and side effects (23.1%). With respect to childhood immunisation timeliness, after controlling for other background characteristics, mothers whose main health information source was the Internet/social media had 34% (adjusted odds-ratio AOR = 0.66 [0.47, 0.94], p = 0.020) lower odds in comparison to other sources, working mothers had 35% (AOR = 0.65 [0.47, 0.91], p = 0.013) lower odds in comparison to non-working mothers, mothers with no education had 86% (AOR = 0.14 [0.03, 0.67], p = 0.014) lower odds compared to those who completed higher education, and mothers living in AL02-Qender and AL03-Jug regions had 62% (AOR = 0.38 [0.23, 0.63], p < 0.0001) and 64% (AOR = 0.36 [0.24, 0.53], p < 0.0001) lower odds respectively in comparison to those residing in AL01-Veri region (p < 0.0001). With respect to vaccine confidence, mothers whose main health information source was the Internet/social media had 56% (AOR = 0.44 [0.27, 0.73], p = 0.002) lower odds in comparison to other sources, single mothers had 92% (AOR = 0.08 [0.01, 0.65], p = 0.019) lower odds compared to those married/living with a partner, mothers of specific ethnicites (like Roma) had 61% (AOR = 0.39 [0.15, 0.97], p = 0.042) lower odds in comparison to mothers of Albanian ethnicity, and mothers living in AL03-Jug region had 67% (AOR = 0.33 [0.19, 0.59], p ≤ 0.0001) lower odds compared to mothers residing in AL01-Veri region.
Reinforcement of scientific evidence-based online communication about childhood immunisation in combination with tracking and analysis of vaccine hesitancy sentiment and anti-vaccination movements on the Internet/social media would be beneficial in improving immunisation timeliness and vaccine confidence in Albania. Since parents tend to search online for information that would confirm their original beliefs, traditional ways of promoting vaccination by healthcare professionals who enjoy confidence as trusted sources of health information should be sustained and strengthened to target the inequities in childhood immunisation timelines and vaccine confidence in Albania.