Why Are People Less Eager to Get Vaccinated Than a Month Ago?

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A person receives a dose of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine at a vaccination center in Chicago, Ill., April 6, 2021. (Carlos Barria/Reuters)

I’ve got a reader who’s really mad about this post back on March 5, and who demands a retraction for “making fun of Detroit and its mayor.” In case you’ve forgotten, the mayor of Detroit initially turned down 6,200 doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

Mayor Mike Duggan doubled down Thursday on his reasoning for sticking with the vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer.

“Johnson & Johnson is a very good vaccine. Moderna and Pfizer are the best,” Duggan said in a news conference. “And I am going to do everything I can to make sure that residents of the city of Detroit get the best.”

The mayor’s stance was at odds with all available science and the recommendations of public health experts, and the new administration noticed. White House Jen Psaki said, “our team has been in touch with the mayor.  There was a bit of a misunderstanding. He was going to go out and speak publicly about accepting vaccines.” The mayor reversed his position on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine shortly after that White House outreach.

This reader metaphorically did a touchdown dance when the FDA and CDC temporarily paused the administering of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, interpreting that as vindication for Duggan. Of course, the FDA and CDC rescinded the pause, declaring they “have confidence that this vaccine is safe and effective in preventing COVID-19” and the FDA “has determined that the available data show that the vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks in individuals 18 years of age and older.”

But the daily rate of vaccinations dropped noticeably after that initial FDA pause: “People ages 18-49, who were rapidly increasing their vaccination rate, took a sudden lurch downward right at the time the J&J pause was announced. Those from 50-64, who were holding steady, also took a big downward dip. Conversely, those under 18, who were approved only for the Pfizer vaccine, showed no change in response.” Great work, fellas. Because of a handful of cases of blood clots that may or may not be connected to the vaccine, you did real damage to public enthusiasm for getting vaccinated. I’m sure Jenny McCarthy is proud.

As for my reader who’s the president of the Mike Duggan Fan Club, I guess when you have to root for the Lions (last place in the NFC North last year), Tigers (worst record in baseball), Pistons (last place in the NBA’s Eastern Conference) and Red Wings (seventh place in the eight-team NHL Central Division), you get really emotionally invested in particular brands of COVID-19 vaccine.

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