WASHINGTON – President Joe Biden’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign hit a snag Tuesday when federal regulators recommended a “pause” in administering Johnson & Johnson shots. But the White House portrayed the action as important validation of his measured approach throughout the rollout.
Biden declared that even with a temporary loss of J&J 's one-shot vaccine, there is a huge supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, enough that "is basically 100% unquestionable, for every single solitary American.”
Perhaps more concerning than any worry about supply, however, is the potential blow to public confidence in all of the vaccines, as polls suggest potentially tens of millions of Americans are hesitant to get the shots that public health experts say are necessary for the nation to emerge from the pandemic.
The pause actually should have the opposite effect, boosting confidence that the government is putting safety first, Biden and top health officials said at a White House briefing. The advisory by the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — citing a need to investigate reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots — was “testimony to how seriously we take safety," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert.
In the opening months of his presidency, Biden has put top priority on a robust response to the virus that has killed 559,000 Americans, with a vaccine campaign in which nearly 50% of adults have received at least one shot.
His actions have received generally strong reviews, and hesitancy toward taking the vaccine has gradually declined as inoculations have increased. With three vaccines in use in the U.S. and plenty of supply in the pipeline, Biden actually has received some criticism for not sharing more vaccines with other nations. The president said Tuesday’s action proved the wisdom of his approach.
“My message to the American people on the vaccine is, I told you all," Biden told reporters after the announcement, adding that he “made sure we have 600 million doses” just from Pfizer and Moderna in the pipeline.
The Johnson & Johnson pause, which regulators say they hope to resolve within days, comes on the heels of production issues at the Baltimore plant that produces the J&J vaccine.