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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

Health experts concerned Johnson & Johnson pause could increase vaccine hesitancy

The announcement should reassure the public that regulators are being 'extra cautious' about our health, said one expert.

INDIANAPOLIS — Ogbonnaya Omenka, an assistant professor in the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences at Butler University, said the government’s recommendation to pause distribution of the Johnson and Johnson vaccines is a “double-edged sword.” 

“On the one hand, you're looking at excellent management of public health intervention,” he said. 

Omenka believes the announcement should reassure the public that federal regulators are being extra cautious about our health.

But he also said it may further persuade vaccine skeptics to avoid getting a shot, no matter the manufacturer.

“The best approach now is what the authorities are doing - transparency - talking about what they're doing,” Omenka said. 

"I think at this point, its important to keep two facts in mind,” said Dr. Jeremy Adler, Tippecanoe County health officer. “This rare blood clotting problem, while serious, has only been seen in a small number of individuals who’ve received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. In fact, only six out of nearly 7 million doses, so less than one in a million.”

Adler said medical experts don’t know yet if the vaccine actually caused the blood clots.

“That's what the FDA and the CDC are working to determine,” he said. 

The pause isn't likely to affect vaccine supplies. In a statement Tuesday, a White House spokesperson said the Johnson & Johnson vaccine makes up less than five percent of the vaccines administered so far in the U.S.