Objective:

To evaluate perceptions of COVID-19 vaccination and psychological distress during the COVID-19 pandemic in women considering or undergoing fertility treatment.


Materials and methods:

Cross-sectional anonymous survey (n= 3558) from a single Academic fertility center. A total of 1103 patients completed the survey (response rate = 31% of those emailed, 97.6% of those who opened the email). Participants were randomized 1:1 to a one-page educational graphic providing facts and benefits regarding COVID-19 vaccination. Assessment of vaccine hesitancy was conducted via the Medical Mistrust Index (MMI). Mental health was assessed via the Patient Health Questionnaire Depression Scale (PHQ-8) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 (GAD-7).


Results:

The majority of participants were married, nulliparous, white women with > 1 year of infertility and moderate to severe distress. As compared to the non-intervention group, participants in the intervention group believed that COVID-19 vaccination does not cause genetic abnormalities in a fetus (98.0% v. 94.2%) and infertility (99% v. 96.2%) and that severe infection has been associated with pregnancy (81.3% v. 74.6%) (P <0.05). Higher MMI scores were associated with vaccine hesitancy (P = 0.01), higher GAD-7 scores (P = 0.01), and greater concerns about side effects of the vaccine (P < 0.05). GAD-7 and PHQ-8 scores were not associated with vaccine hesitancy. Nearly a quarter of participants initiated psychiatric treatment after March 2020.


Conclusion:

Vaccine hesitancy was associated with mistrust of the medical system. Psychological distress was highly prevalent in this study. Efforts should be made to improve patient trust and provide psychological support for fertility patients.


Keywords:

COVID-19; Coronavirus; Fertility; Pregnancy; Vaccine hesitancy.



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Vaccine hesitancy, distress, and medical mistrust in women considering or undergoing fertility treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic

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