Johnson & Johnson vaccine hesitancy could slow COVID fight

As vaccine supply begins to open up, doubts about one particular vaccine threatens to slow things down. 

Some of California's top health officials received the Johnson & Johnson one-shot COVID vaccine. 

"It's safe and effective. It's effective against hospitalizations and death," said Dr. Tomas Aragon, California Secretary of Health.  Adding the state's surgeon general Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, "This vaccine is so good. It's good enough for my mother, it's good enough for me and I am very grateful to have the opportunity to receive this vaccine today."

Special emphasis was placed on those fearful or hesitant to get the vaccine, especially people who worry it's not as effective as other brands. 

One elderly woman said, "I really didn't want to take it because I think it's a government farce. But, that's my problem." 

Another man said he doesn't have a preference on which vaccine to get. "I don't care where it's from. It's fine with me," he said. 

A majority of disease physicians advise that people get whichever vaccine is available to them. 

In clinical trials, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine appears to be 66% effective at preventing moderate to severe cases of COVID, compared to about 95% for Moderna and Pfizer. But, researchers said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine measures up. Science shows the one-shot vaccine becomes more effective over time, to 90%.

All three are 100% percent effective in preventing death. But, some people fear side effects. 

"I can guarantee you that any side effects of the vaccine are much better than serious COVID infections," said California State Epidemiologist Dr. Erica Pan.

Mobile vaccination units are going to communities in the East Bay and administering doses at trusted places like churches and clinics to reduce hesitancy. 

"So, let's continue to partner with our faith-based and churches and other community organizations that have a track record of doing great work within the community," said activist and minister Dr. Donna White-Carey. 

The state expects the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to be far more plentiful in April in addition to more Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. 

"It's also effective for the communities, Why? Because the quicker we get to community immunity, the quicker we will be done with this pandemic," said Aragon.