The federal “pause” in administering the Johnson & Johnson
coronavirus vaccine doesn’t appear to have damaged public confidence in the vaccination process, one new survey suggests.
Fifty-three percent of respondents polled in the wake of the pause agreed that it was a “good example of the rigorous safety monitoring of the COVID-19 vaccines that is in place to protect Americans.” In contrast, 29% said the pause was a case study on why the COVID-19 vaccines should be avoided.
Pollster Frank Luntz conducted the poll of 1,000 registered voters on April 15 and April 16 for the de Beaumont Foundation, a foundation focused on public health.
The survey came one week into a temporary halt on J&J COVID-19 shots after they were linked to eight severe blood-clot cases in the U.S., among 7.4 million people who had received the single-dose shot as of last week. Seven of the eight people who experienced the ultra-rare blood clots are women.
Almost two-thirds (63%) of survey respondents said people should still try to get vaccinated with either the Pfizer
vaccines, both two-dose products. Meanwhile, 37% said people should slow down and wait to get vaccinated against COVID-19 while more information is gathered about the J&J vaccine side effects.
Six in 10 said they viewed the blood-clot cases under scrutiny as isolated events, and believed the vaccines were generally safe.
“Americans recognize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause for what it is — a clear sign that our safety protocols are working the way they’re supposed to,” Brian Castrucci, the de Beaumont Foundation’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “Government officials must continue to be transparent and to use clear, consistent language about the vaccines.”
That’s not to say no damage may have been done by the pause. As one expert previously told MarketWatch, the temporary halt could plant the seeds of doubt deeper for some people.
“These types of things make vaccine-hesitant people more concerned,” said Aaron Glatt, who chairs the department of medicine at Mount Sinai South Nassau in Oceanside, N.Y.
A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advisory committee is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss what’s next for the Johnson & Johnson
Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told news programs Sunday that he would be “very surprised if we don’t have a resumption in some form by Friday.”
On Tuesday, Johnson & Johnson said it would restart shipping its vaccine to Europe. The European Medicines Agency said the benefits outweighed the “very rare” side effects, but added that a warning about the rare chance for blood clots should be included in the vaccine’s materials.
Whatever American public-health officials decide, the recent poll suggests the J&J shot may encounter more skepticism on the other side.
In a breakdown of survey results by whom respondents voted for in the past presidential election, 32% of all voters said they’d never take a J&J vaccine. Most of that hesitancy came from voters for former President Donald Trump, with 44% saying they would never agree to the shot. Eighteen percent of people who voted for President Biden said the same.
Those political divides play out in the broader issue of vaccine hesitancy, where Republicans have tended to show more reluctance.
Last month, Trump said in an interview he would “recommend it to a lot of people that don’t want to get it, and a lot of those people voted for me, frankly.”
The new survey shows melting refusal from Trump supporters: Seventy-one percent said this month they had either received at least one shot or “definitely or probably” would get the shot. That’s up from 59% last month, when the de Beaumont Foundation previously surveyed Trump supporters on the question.
“There are still meaningful, measurable differences between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to their acceptance of COVID vaccines,” Luntz said in a statement. “The good news is that the partisan gap is decreasing and overall vaccine confidence is rising.”
Overall, 132.3 million people — almost 40% of Americans — had received at least one vaccine dose as of Tuesday, and 85.3 million people were fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. At the same time, the country has tallied 31.7 million total COVID-19 cases and 567,759 deaths, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.
“The safety and well-being of the people who use our products is our number one priority,” Paul Stoffel, J&J’s chief scientific officer, said in a Tuesday statement on the news of the resumed shipments to the European Union, Norway and Iceland.
“We strongly believe in the positive benefits of our single-shot, easily transportable COVID-19 vaccine to help protect the health of people everywhere and reach communities in need globally.”