The FDA’s decision to end the hiatus on Friday suggests that it ultimately agreed that the benefits of the vaccine outweighed the risks. Just as the Biden administration deserves credit for much of the overall success of the vaccination program, it also bears some responsibility for the slowdown.
Public opinion too
But the Johnson & Johnson break isn’t the only factor. Reluctance to vaccines also plays a role.
A poll conducted last month by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 20% of American adults said they would not get vaccinated or would only do so when needed. Another 17 percent said they wanted to wait until the vaccine was available longer and that they could see how it affected others. Put these two groups together, and you can see the country is starting to run out of unvaccinated adults wanting to be vaccinated.
In Mercer County, Ohio, on the border with Indiana, people were showing up at the end of the day to claim the remaining photos. Recently, however, Mercer had to throw out some doses, Jason Menchhofer, the county’s health administrator, told The Times.
When I spoke with Ron Klain, Biden’s chief of staff, about the vaccine slowdown, he emphasized the role of reluctance. “We have people who are less enthusiastic,” Klain said. “We know we need to make shooting more convenient, especially for young people.”
To accomplish this, the administration is increasing the number of pharmacies that can administer the vaccine, to around 40,000, and will soon begin urging them and other immunization clinics to move to a walk-in system; people will simply introduce themselves and have their pictures taken, as they already can in New York. The White House also wants employers to offer snapshots at work and colleges to offer snapshots to students. The reintroduction of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also likely to help.
“As people see the benefits of being vaccinated, I think we’ll continue to see progress,” Klain said.
It seems correct. The number of Americans hesitant to get vaccinated has dropped significantly since December, according to Kaiser’s polls. And vaccines continue to work amazingly well. Fully vaccinated people rarely contract Covid and hardly ever get a serious version of it. In Britain and Israel, Covid deaths have fallen by more than 97% in the past three months.