Are women being included in research towards a COVID-19 vaccine? How can we address women’s health needs now and into the future? Jamille Fields Allsbrook of the Center for American Progress joins me to share her knowledge on these issues.

Jamille is the Director of Women’s Health and Rights with the Women’s Initiative at the Center for American Progress. She oversees policy development and strategic planning related to advancing and defending women’s health and rights. Prior to joining American Progress, Jamille was a Senior Policy Analyst at Planned Parenthood Federation of America, where she focused on improving access to care for women, young people, and people with low incomes.

The Center for American Progress reports mentioned in the podcast are:

Highlights include:

8:35 – JFA: “Almost every state has adjusted their telehealth policies. But a lot of the providers that women rely upon, or disproportionately rely upon, are underfunded and inaccessible. For example, Planned Parenthood and also other Title X family planning providers. But this administration finalized a rule just last year that has resulted in 50% of that network leaving.”

11:48 – JFA: “A lot of effort is being put into trying to develop a vaccine far quicker than has ever been developed before and for obvious reasons, to help address the pandemic. But one thing we have been highlighting and want to see is to make sure that it’s safe and effective for everyone. And that includes communities that have been disproportionately left out of trials – so women but also people of color.”

12:10 – JFA: ” Past therapies haven’t always metabolized the same for different populations and different groups of people. That can have a significant impact on our ability to address the pandemic. So one example I’ll give, just to make it concrete, is we know that black people are only 13% of the population but 30% of COVID cases. So we definitely need a vaccine that works for them. But we’ve seen instances in the past where some vaccines, like the HPV vaccine, report that black women might get different strains of HPV. So the HPV vaccine is not as effective for that community.”

13:18 – JFA: “We’ve seen examples where some treatments and therapies have metabolized differently in women’s bodies. So for instance, Ambien was on the market for almost 20 years before the FDA changed and said that women needed to receive a different dosage.”

14:15 – JFA: “Black women and Native women are already facing a maternal health crisis and are around three times more likely to die from pregnancy related complications – a majority of which are preventable. We want to make sure the pandemic doesn’t exacerbate that.”

18:58 – JFA: “So you can’t say to Black and Brown women, ‘Oh, you know, trust us; the Tuskegee experiment was decades ago.’ But (the ICE abuse) is happening right now.”

19:30 – JFA: “I see this as an opportunity (for researchers) to show people that you can trust them. And part of doing that is being open and being forthright about the data. Show us who is being included in these trials.”

26:30 – JFA: “We also have an underinvestment in women’s health services … beyond COVID. So, we don’t know enough about fibroids. We don’t know enough about endometriosis. We don’t know if women are a sizable portion of people getting heart disease.”

Leading with Health is hosted by Jennifer Michelle. Jennifer has a Master’s in Public Health and Epidemiology and is a certified EMT. As President of Michelle Marketing Strategies, Jennifer specializes in healthcare marketing. She is on a mission to create a healthcare system that actually cares about the patients and the providers.