Apr 16, 2021 - Health

J&J vaccine pause hurts its reputation

Reproduced from Economist/YouGov poll; Chart: Axios Visuals
Reproduced from Economist/YouGov poll; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans' confidence in the safety of Johnson & Johnson's coronavirus vaccine took a big dip this week after the pause in its use, per new YouGov polling, even though the risk of blood clots following the shot is extremely low, if it exists at all.

Why it matters: For the majority of people, particularly high-risk Americans, getting the J&J shot is almost certainly less dangerous than remaining vulnerable to the coronavirus.

Between the lines: Some experts' fear that the news would contribute to general vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. appears to be well-founded.

  • Before the pause, only 26% of Americans said they thought the J&J vaccine was very or somewhat unsafe, per YouGov.
  • After the pause, that number jumped to 39%.

The good news: Confidence in the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines remained unchanged from a previous survey, per YouGov, "indicating that concerns over one vaccine do not spill over to affect other vaccines."

What they’re saying: Some experts who initially applauded the pause have criticized a federal advisory committee's delay in making a recommendation about what to do next.

  • “There is a cost of inaction, including in emboldening anti-vaccine activists & sowing doubt that hampers vaccine efforts not only in the US but around the world,” tweeted Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University.
  • “There will be people who won’t get a vaccine at all who would have gotten it otherwise, in which case you will have done more harm than good,” Paul Offit of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia told The Hill.
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