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J Prev Med Public Health. 2018 Jul;51(4):173-180. doi: 10.3961/jpmph.18.063. Epub 2018 May 25.

Factors Influencing Vaccination in Korea: Findings From Focus Group Interviews.

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Department of Preventive Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Pediatrics, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.
Department of Internal Medicine, Ewha Womans University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.



Immunization is considered one of the most successful and cost-effective public health interventions protecting communities from preventable infectious diseases. The Korean government set up a dedicated workforce for national immunization in 2003, and since then has made strides in improving vaccination coverage across the nation. However, some groups remain relatively vulnerable and require intervention, and it is necessary to address unmet needs to prevent outbreaks of communicable diseases. This study was conducted to characterize persistent challenges to vaccination.


The study adopted a qualitative method in accordance with the Consolidated Criteria for Reporting Qualitative Research checklist. Three focus group interviews were conducted with 15 professionals in charge of vaccination-related duties. The interviews were conducted according to a semi-structured guideline, and thematic analysis was carried out. Data saturation was confirmed when the researchers agreed that no more new codes could be found.


A total of 4 main topics and 11 subtopics were introduced regarding barriers to vaccination. The main topics were vaccine hesitancy, personal circumstances, lack of information, and misclassification. Among them, vaccine hesitancy was confirmed to be the most significant factor impeding vaccination. It was also found that the factors hindering vaccination had changed over time and disproportionately affected certain groups.


The study identified ongoing unmet needs and barriers to vaccination despite the accomplishments of the National Immunization Program. The results have implications for establishing tailored interventions that target context- and group-specific barriers to improve timely and complete vaccination coverage.


Focus groups; Immunization; Korea; Vaccination; Vaccination refusal

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