On Thursday, October 8th, HealthyWomen presented the results of the COVID-19 survey in a webinar with CEO Beth Battaglino. She was joined by Phyllis Arthur, Vice President, Infectious Diseases and Diagnostics, Biotechnology Innovation; Alejandra Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA; and Kate Russell Woodworth of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for a discussion on how the pandemic has affected the lives and health of American women.
Aimed Alliance host Stacey Worthy opened the session with key findings from the HealthyWomen survey, which produced two reports: “Women and COVID-19: Understanding the Emotional and Physical Impact on Women’s Behavior and Health Decision-Making During and.” post-pandemic “and” Women, Menopause and COVID-19. ” The online survey was conducted in June and over 3,000 women responded. The data is intended to raise awareness and provide a better understanding of the impact of the pandemic on women’s health, as well as the impact of their experiences on current and potentially future behavior.
An expected vaccine
Battaglino started the discussion by applauding the number of respondents – 54% – who said they were likely or highly likely to receive a COVID-19 vaccine if available. “To me, that’s a pretty high percentage of people who raise their hands,” Battaglino said. Of these, 67% of Asian women, 53% of Hispanic / Latin American women, and 45% of Black / African American (AA) women said they were ready to be vaccinated.
Arthur, who has worked with vaccines for nearly two decades, was a supporter of Battaglino. “Women are often the center of healthcare decision-making in their home,” said Arthur. “Seeing women say they could get the vaccine actually has a family wave.”
Still, 19% of respondents said they were unlikely or extremely unlikely to be vaccinated, and 62% of these women said they had no confidence in its safety and effectiveness. When asked how to disarm suspicion, Arthur replied, “It is important that we explain what is common about the process.” Most of the process is the same as developing other vaccines, she confirmed. While the early stages have been sped up, the top-level studies and scientific reviews are now taking the time necessary to ensure effectiveness.
Engage color communities
Arthur and Castillo also focused on the importance of building and developing trust in color communities. “We want to make sure that we are not only working politically to ensure that women are safe – that there is no structural discrimination or racism – but above all that there is justice,” said Castillo. “It is definitely a huge role for all of us to spread information and strengthen color communities.”
Arthur agreed. “This is about making sure people see each other in the data … How can we erase 40 to 50 years of suspicion about clinical trials?” Asked Arthur. It is important, she said, that people realize that taking exams is the best way to see yourself in those exams.
But not everyone will see themselves. Woodworth, a pediatrician with the CDC’s Department of Birth Defects and Infant Disorders, confirmed that current vaccine studies exclude pregnant women. “What we expect will happen,” said Woodworth.[is that] as we receive increased safety data from non-pregnant adults. . . These clinical trials will extend to pregnant women and children. “
The panel participants also discussed access. Arthur emphasized the importance of having the vaccine available in all communities and given by trusted community members. “It’s a big job in a very short time, but extremely important,” she concluded.
COVID-19, color and health communities
The HealthyWomen poll, in line with the CDC, found that color communities are disproportionately affected by the virus. While 11% of women made an effort to manage COVID-19 symptoms, the percentages were higher among Black / AA (19%) and Hispanic / Latin American (21%) women.
In general, the pandemic has affected the mental health and well-being of women. Around a third of our respondents said they had experienced stress, fear or worry during the period of social distancing from the pandemic. The survey found that when compared to white women, more Hispanic / Latin American and black / AA women were concerned about having housing that provided health care and physical safety. Hispanic / Latino women also noted a greater need for mental health services than white women, but were less likely to make appointments related to health care.
The survey also confirmed that overall health care utilization declined in the first few months of the pandemic due to fear of contracting the virus and social distancing measures. While 64% of respondents had previously scheduled appointments when the pandemic occurred, only 32% kept their personal appointments. Another 32% booked a telemedicine appointment and 13% canceled. The increase in telemedicine – especially among women with menopausal symptoms – was a positive finding for Battaglino. “I think telemedicine will continue to grow,” she said.
Menopause in a pandemic
On the subject of menopause, 54% of those surveyed lived with menopausal symptoms. Before the pandemic, about a third of respondents had personal doctor visits to discuss their symptoms (2% had used telemedicine). Since March, 44% of women with menopausal symptoms have had to make a doctor’s appointment. Battaglino emphasized, “If you are going through menopause and have symptoms that are affecting your sleep … or your mental health, please make this appointment and see your doctor.”
“Menopausal symptoms are treatable,” she continued, “this additional stress exacerbates some of the problems [those] Symptoms. . . [that’s why] It’s so important to meet our deadlines. ”
The poll supports Battaglino’s claim. In light of the pandemic, women with menopausal symptoms were more likely than women without menopausal symptoms to report social anxiety, separation anxiety, insomnia, and panic. Additionally, Worthy said that unmanaged menopause can lead to certain health risks, including heart disease and type 2 diabetes, which the CDC have identified as underlying health conditions that put people at higher risk for serious COVID-19 illnesses.
Battaglino urged women to make themselves a priority. “We are always so busy taking care of our significant other, our children – even the family pet is put before us – it is so important for women to prioritize their own health.”
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
This resource was created with support from Astellas and The Pfizer Foundation.