Rehabilitating the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, specialists advised me, would require sincere acknowledgments of its shortcomings, and validating, not combatting, individuals’s considerations. The uncommon blood clots which have been tied to the vaccine are severe, they mentioned, however terribly unusual—a threat that’s far outweighed by the advantages of immunity.
The pause clearly did shake issues up. Willie Bodrick II, a senior pastor of Twelfth Baptist Church in Boston, who’s closely engaged in vaccine outreach to town’s Black neighborhood, advised me that, even earlier than the pause, he had been fielding questions in regards to the J&J shot for weeks. Some individuals who had been unwilling to take a second dose, whether or not due to work constraints or wariness of uncomfortable side effects, noticed the one injection as a super choice; others “had been actually fearful they’d be receiving a subpar vaccine,” he mentioned. Simply days earlier than the J&J halt, Bodrick felt he’d made progress. However information of the uncommon blood clots “resurfaced a hurdle I assumed we had been doing an excellent job shifting past,” he mentioned. Van Yu, a doctor on the Heart for City Neighborhood Providers in New York Metropolis, the place he’s working to carry J&J vaccines to individuals experiencing homelessness, advised me that, earlier than the pause, a lot of his sufferers explicitly requested “the single-shot factor.” Now that J&J is on the market once more, he and his colleagues have observed that some individuals are citing the halt as a cause to show it down.
The chance of clots has persuaded just a few individuals to forgo vaccination fully. Earl Potts, a 60-year-old IT-security specialist in Maryland, advised me that he’s been skeptical of receiving any vaccines for many years. Though fixed coaxing from household initially nudged him and his spouse, Lori Renee Potts, towards getting J&J “as a result of it was only one shot,” the pause reignited their worry that the vaccine-making course of had been rushed. “I want extra knowledge; I want extra time,” he mentioned.
In lots of components of the nation, nevertheless, a easy message continues to be encouraging individuals to roll up their sleeves: Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is “considered one of three glorious selections for cover in opposition to COVID-19,” as Hardeman places it. In Columbus, Ohio, the well being division’s on-site clinic vaccinates about 130 to 140 individuals every day, greater than a 3rd of whom are nonetheless queueing up for the one-and-done shot, Well being Commissioner Mysheika Roberts advised me. At one other massive website, the place Pfizer and J&J doses are alternated all through the week, “the J&J days are simply as busy.”
Nonetheless, the pause prompted Roberts and her crew to modify up their outreach ways. Earlier than the halt, metropolis officers had introduced just one model at a time when inoculating off-site, prioritizing J&J allocations for the residents of homeless shelters and homebound people. When the vaccine returned with a warning label, “we thought it was acceptable to supply a selection,” Roberts advised me, so nobody felt cornered. Porting mRNA vaccines round requires a cell freezer, which is “tedious to keep up,” she mentioned, however removes a barrier. “Now once we exit to any location, it’s, ‘Which would you like, Pfizer or J&J?’”