Confidence in the safety of the J&J vaccine is low following U.S. pause, Kaiser survey shows
An Army nurse holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the FEMA-sponsored COVID-19 vaccination site at Valencia State College on the first day the site provided the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after the FDA repealed The CDC has offered a break again due to blood clot concerns.
Paul Hennessy | LightRocket | Getty Images
According to a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation, less than half of Americans believe the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine is safe after it was temporarily suspended in the US after reports of rare blood clotting problems in some recipients.
While most people believe in Covid vaccines, in general, only 46% of respondents said they were at least somewhat confident about the J&J inclusion, compared to 69% who were for both Pfizer and the Moderna vaccines said. Kaiser surveyed 2,097 randomly selected adults aged 18 and over from April 15 to 29 for the study published on Wednesday.
The Food and Drug Administration and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged states on April 13 to temporarily stop using J & J’s vaccine “out of caution” after six women reported rare blood clots. A CDC panel recommended the US resume the vaccine ten days later, saying the benefits outweigh the risks.
The J&J news seems to have changed some opinions about a shot.
One in five non-vaccinated respondents said the news changed their minds about receiving the vaccine, even though the specific responses were different. 7% said they were less likely to want any of the three Covid vaccines, Kaiser noted. Another 9% said they were less likely to want the J&J vaccine, but that it didn’t change their mind about the Pfizer or Moderna shots.
Nevertheless, the proportion of respondents who said they had received a shot rose significantly from 32% to 56% in the survey last month. That number reflects data from the CDC, which reports that roughly the same proportion of adults in the United States have received one or more doses.
“The news was widespread and it certainly hurt confidence in J&J, but it’s not clear that it had much of an impact on whether or not people were actually vaccinated,” said Dr. Mollyann Brodie, General Manager of Public Opinion and Survey Research at the Foundation Program. “It confirmed for people who were concerned about side effects that there were side effects, but we know that the immediate effect – at least in terms of what people told us – is very small in terms of demand.”
Women were more likely than men to say the J&J news had changed their minds about vaccination. The Kaiser survey found that Hispanic women in particular, 18% of whom said they were less likely to want a vaccine at all.
The timing of the Johnson & Johnson hiatus coincides with a general slowdown in US vaccinations. The country reported an average of 2.1 million vaccinations per day for the past week, CDC data shows, up from a high of 3.4 million on April 13.
The fact that the nationwide drop in daily shots occurred during the stop is more a coincidence than a direct effect, said Dr. Rupali Limaye, faculty member at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Limaye is researching vaccine decision-making and has worked with state health departments during the vaccine launch.
While the hiatus at J&J, and the reluctance it caused, contributed somewhat to the decline, the bigger factor, according to Limaye, is that the country has reached the point where most Americans who want a vaccine have got one.
“I hear from states that not only are things slowing down generally because of J&J, but also slowing down because we have essentially been able to meet the demand,” she said.
The survey data from the Kaiser Foundation confirm this. Respondents who said they were most anxious to get a shot – those who have already been vaccinated or want it as soon as possible – rose only marginally from 61% to 64% in the previous survey in March. The proportion who wanted to “wait and see” before vaccination, who had lost in size, remained roughly the same.
“We are at a stage in the vaccination effort where all the eager people are vaccinated or are about to be vaccinated,” said Brodie. “We are now turning to the reluctant people, with strategies that are required to reach many different people.”
This equates to an 87% decline, which is steeper than the declines Pfizer and Moderna saw from their respective peaks.