Intersectionality refers to the interconnectedness of various social locations creating unique experiences for individuals and groups, in the context of systems of privilege and oppression. As part of immunization coverage research, intersectionality allows healthcare professionals and policymakers to become aware of the constellation of characteristics contributing to low vaccine uptake. The objective of this study was to examine the application of intersectionality theory or concepts, and the appropriate use of sex and gender terminology, in Canadian immunization coverage research.
The eligibility criteria for this scoping review included English or French language studies on immunization coverage among Canadians of all ages. Six research databases were searched without date restrictions. We searched provincial and federal websites, as well as the Proquest Dissertations and Theses Global database for grey literature.
Of 4725 studies identified in the search, 78 were included in the review. Of these, 20 studies included intersectionality concepts, specifically intersections of individual-level characteristics influencing vaccine uptake. However, no studies explicitly used an intersectionality framework to guide their research. Of the 19 studies that mentioned “gender”, 18 had misused this term, conflating it with “sex”.
Based on our findings, there is an evident lack of intersectionality framework utilization in immunization coverage research in Canada, as well as misuse of the terms “gender” and “sex”. Rather than only focusing on discrete characteristics, research should explore the interaction between numerous characteristics to better understand the barriers to immunization uptake in Canada.