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Johnson & Johnson investigation raises new concerns about vaccine hesitancy

Published: Apr. 14, 2021 at 7:31 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - The investigation into the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is raising concerns over vaccine hesitancy and fears that it could have long-term consequences in the effort to reach herd immunity.

Health officials across Kansas are working to convince the public to have confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines, including the Johnson & Johnson shot.

The U.S. recommended a “pause” in administration of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine to investigate reports of potentially dangerous blood clots. So far, only six out of 6.8 million people who have received the J&J vaccine have experience rare blood clots.

The CDC and FDA implied that the investigation into those six cases could wrap up in weeks or even days. But health officials fear the consequences as they relate to public confidence could be long-term.

Vaccine hesitancy is nothing new, but the concern is that this could become a deeper problem since the CDC and FDA launched the investigation into the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Cowley County Health Director Tom Langer said if and when the vaccine is cleared, health officials are expecting some challenges convincing the public that the Johnson & Johnson shot is safe.

“I know we’ve had a difficult time through the entirety of doing vaccine distribution to convince certain groups within the population that they should take the vaccine,” Langer said. “Some will never take it, some are still waiting, others have rushed out to receive the vaccine. We’re going to continue to work through the entirety of the population, making it available, providing the best information that we have, educating them on why, you know, it is safe and why it makes sense for their health to take it.”

Health departments are offering the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine to those who had appointments for the Johnson & Johnson shot. Pfizer and Moderna require two doses, while Johnson & Johnson is a single-dose vaccine. Sedgwick County reports having plenty of open appointments at its COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Wichita.

In Sedgwick County, anyone 16 and older can schedule an appointment online at www.sedgwickcounty.org/covid-19/vaccine/schedule/.

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