As the U.S. government pauses in use of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, it’s important to remember: vaccines are safe and will help defeat the coronavirus pandemic. The effects cited by the government have occurred in six people out of the approximately seven million who have gotten the vaccine, a staggeringly low number. The seriousness with which the government is taking these side effects is a testament to its overall commitment to vaccine safety.
Indeed, data from the U.S., U.K., and Israel bear out again and again that the vaccination campaigns are working. Yes, there are concerns about variants and continuing high rates of new cases, but the trends – especially in the crucial areas of hospitalizations and deaths – are all moving in the right direction. Yet despite the statistical evidence around COVID vaccines and the long history of vaccine safety more generally, there is still significant vaccine hesitancy in the U.S. For this episode, we spoke with Professor Tara Kirk Sell, assistant professor at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, to discuss vaccine hesitancy, the risk it poses, and how to combat it.