J&J Pause Did Not Upend Vaccine Confidence: Poll
April 21, 2021 – The federally recommended suspension of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on April 13 did not significantly distort confidence in the COVID-19 vaccination, a new poll reveals.
In fact, 76% of the 1,000 registered voters polled across the country said the break did not reduce the likelihood of getting the vaccine. In addition, of those already vaccinated, 87% said they would “definitely” be vaccinated again if they had to start again.
The survey also indicates that the gap in vaccine acceptance is narrowing between Republicans and Democrats. For example, 60% of Trump voters and 72% of Biden voters agreed with this statement: “The bottom line is that COVID-19 vaccines save lives, and Americans should keep getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”
“I am pleasantly surprised,” said Kathleen Neuzil, MD, after reviewing the results.
“We in the vaccine community understand that these rare adverse events are of concern and frightening. So, it is an honor to the FDA and CDC, who have clearly communicated the reason for the hiatus, and the very low risk of these events, “said Neuzil, director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.
“I also thank the media for the fair and objective coverage of the incident,” she added.
The FDA and CDC recommended the break after six people developed rare but serious blood clots within 2 weeks of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. One of them died. At least two other cases are still under review.
The survey was conducted April 15-16 by Frank Luntz, PhD, for the Beaumont Foundation. Luntz is a nationally recognized political consultant and pollster who generally works for Republicans.
Just under two-thirds of respondents, 61%, think vaccines are safe and effective. This sentiment was shared by 60% of Trump voters and 66% of Biden voters.
However, more than three in 10 respondents, 32%, said they would never get a Johnson & Johnson vaccine specifically. The split was 44% of Trump voters and 18% of Biden voters. Moderna and Pfizer also have vaccines approved for use in the United States.
“These results don’t surprise me,” said James McDeavitt, MD. “There seems to be a relatively small part of the population who are strongly opposed to vaccines and are unlikely to change their mind.”
Reluctance among most people varies based on a variety of demographic factors including ethnicity, socioeconomic status, urban versus rural communities, and political affiliation, said McDeavitt, senior vice president and dean. of Clinical Affairs from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston.
“As we gain more and more experience with a very large number of people vaccinated, it is clear that all groups are more and more comfortable,” he added.
Doctors play a leading role
“Americans recognize the Johnson & Johnson vaccine break for what it is – a clear sign that our safety protocols are working as they are meant to,” Brian C. Castrucci, Doctor of Public Health and Chief Executive Officer of the Beaumont Foundation, said in a press release. “Government officials must continue to be transparent and use clear and consistent language about vaccines.”
“Communication efforts, for the most part, are working,” Luntz added in the statement. “But reaching the most hesitant populations will require doctors and public health officials, not politicians.”
Neuzil agreed that healthcare workers will be essential in reaching the most hesitant populations. “Research on other vaccines, including influenza vaccines in adults, indicates[s] that a strong recommendation from a trusted health care provider can overcome reluctance to immunize, ”she said.
An isolated event?
Pollsters also asked if, given the decision to suspend the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, people believe there will be more serious side effects from all COVID-19 vaccines.
A majority, 61%, considered the break to be an isolated event. In contrast, 39% believe that “this is the first of many serious side effects that we will hear about”.
Pollsters also asked, given the recommended break, what people should do next.
A total of 63% responded that people should continue to get vaccinated as soon as possible with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines. Another 37% said they should wait to get the vaccine until more information is known about the side effects of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.
Pollsters also asked how people viewed the decision to suspend J&J deployment.
Fifty-three percent thought it was a good example of the rigorous COVID-19 vaccine safety oversight in place to protect Americans. Another 29% felt this was a good example of why COVID-19 vaccines may be dangerous, untested, and should not be taken unless you absolutely have to. The other respondents were ambivalent, choosing “it really doesn’t matter to me”.
“I’m encouraged that the audience is a lot smarter than some people assume,” McDeavitt said. “People don’t overreact [Johnson and Johnson] news – but weighing a lot of factors. “
“As we get more experience, people see their friends and family getting vaccinated and the benefits of vaccines become[s] more and more apparent, we will see the hesitations fade away, ”he predicts.
The survey has a margin of error of plus / minus 3%. The 1,000 respondents included an oversampling of voters aged 18 to 34 to reflect the demographics of voter turnout in the 2020 presidential election.
The poll is the fourth in a series of national polls aimed at “changing the COVID conversation.” The surveys are designed to guide more effective public health messages during the pandemic among various populations, including black Americans, Latin American communities, Republicans, rural dwellers, and others.
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