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Fauci: Pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccines 'could actually diminish hesitancy'

Fauci: Pause in Johnson & Johnson vaccines 'could actually diminish hesitancy'
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Anthony FauciAnthony FauciThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting Overnight Health Care: Biden announces 1M have enrolled in special ObamaCare sign-up period | Rand Paul clashes with Fauci over coronavirus origins | Biden vows to get 'more aggressive' on lifestyle benefits of vaccines Average US daily COVID-19 cases below 40K for first time since September MORE on Wednesday said he thinks the government’s decision to recommend a halt in the administration of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine could actually diminish vaccine hesitancy amid some concerns that the pause could deter people from getting shots.

Fauci, the government’s leading infectious diseases expert, said the move from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) could underscore how seriously federal agencies are taking vaccine safety.

“One of the most important reasons why people have hesitancy is they're concerned about the safety. The very fact that you have an organization, two organizations, the CDC and the FDA, looking so carefully at this, making safety the primary concern, in my mind, confirms or underscores the situation that we take safety very seriously. So I would think, at the end of the day, it could actually diminish hesitancy by saying, ‘Boy, those people there, they're looking at that really carefully,’” Fauci said in an appearance on NBC’s “Today.”

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The federal decision to recommend a pause in the administration of Johnson & Johnson vaccines came after six women who received the shot developed blood clots. One person died, and another is in critical condition.

However, more than 7 million people have received the vaccine from the firm, making the chances of getting the clots less than one in a million. 

The shot from Johnson & Johnson is one of three approved for emergency use in the country, along with others from Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech.

While those two vaccines use different messenger RNA technology and have not been associated with any serious side effects, experts warn that the Johnson & Johnson pause could fuel broader vaccine hesitancy.

“A global pause of the J&J vaccine seems excessive given the popular mythologies that are likely to arise from this statement for all vaccines,” Prabhjot Singh, a physician and global health expert at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, told The Hill Tuesday.

Federal officials have sought to allay concerns, maintaining that the shots are safe and that there are still enough doses to vaccinate all U.S. adults.

“It is a very, very rare event. You don't want people who have just received the vaccine to be overly worried about this. This is a rare occurrence,” Fauci said of the blood clots. “The pause is just an abundance of caution to scope out the situation a little bit more closely.”