Mid-Michigan doctor discusses handling hesitancy and public trust after pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Chain reaction for pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine is introducing new uncertainties for those who might be on the fence
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 10:35 PM EDT
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FLINT, Mich. (WJRT) - (04/13/2021) - The decision for the U.S. to hold off on using the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is setting off a chain reaction around the world.

It comes after a half-dozen reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots. The reports include six women between the ages of 18 and 48. That’s out of nearly seven million shots given.

The hope is this pause won’t last long, but for people who were already hesitant, any sign of doubt including one of those women who died is raising red flags.

”The bigger issue in my mind is the crisis of confidence now that we’ve created because of doubt in the vaccine,” Dr. Bobby Mukkamala said.

Mukkamala is a Flint-area physician and President of the Michigan State Medical Society.

He says the chain reaction is introducing new uncertainties for those who might be on the fence.

”The first thing is not to minimize their concern, right? So I wouldn’t say ‘Oh, it’s nothing. It’s six out of six million. Just go get your shot.’ I mean that’s not the way to handle that conversation,” Mukkamala said.

Mukkamala says minimizing concerns is not what he does as a doctor counseling his patients about the risks and benefits of any medical treatment.

Instead, he says it’s important to wait until the investigation happens on Wednesday and then relay those results.

“Is there particular subset? Is it women that are on a certain medicine that shouldn’t get the J&J vaccine? So that everybody else that doesn’t fall into that category now still has this third option,” Mukkamala said.

While he says supply with the other vaccines won’t be an issue like it was a few months ago, it’s important to continue reaching out to communities in need like Flint.

”Having multiple pathways and multiple types of avenues to get vaccinated, you know the 1,000 person airport type event vs the go to your doctor and get your vaccine at the doctor’s office. It’s just nice to have the variety, and so the more options we have the closer we’ll be to getting to that herd immunity,” Mukkamala said.

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