Federal recommendations to pause the use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine sent a “not helpful” signal to people feeling hesitant about being vaccinated against the virus, Gov. Ned Lamont said Wednesday following a bill-signing event.
The Centers for Disease Control and U.S. Food and Drug Administration advised the J&J pause Tuesday in response to reports of a rare and serious blood clotting condition found in six women who had recently taken the shot.
Although the state Public Health Department followed suit and temporarily advised shelving the one-shot formula, Lamont described the condition as exceedingly rare and worried that the break would erode public willingness to take a vaccine.
“I just hope it doesn’t mean there’s a pause in people knowing how important it is they get vaccinated. That’s what I worry about,” the governor said.
Lamont said he conveyed his objections to the White House Coronavirus Task Force during a National Governors Association call Tuesday.
“I would’ve handled it differently and I let them know that,” he said.
The news comes at a crucial time for Connecticut’s vaccine rollout as the state prepares to shift gears and focus more on convincing vaccine-hesitant residents to take the shot. The state expects a boost in supply of both the Pfizer and Moderna formulas to help offset the J&J pause.
Even with the disruption, state officials say they still expect supply of vaccine doses to eclipse demand sometime this month.
“A lot of people have gotten vaccinated, now we’re trying to get those who are a little more hesitant to get vaccinated and the CDC sent out a signal that was not helpful,” the governor said.
Max Reiss, Lamont’s communications director, said the governor was not trying to downplay the severity of the clotting condition, which is potentially life-threatening, but meant to underscore its rarity. It has developed in six women between the ages of 18 and 48 out of the more than 6.8 million Americans who have taken the shot. The governor has twice likened it to being struck by lightning.
“The CDC and FDA are erring on the side of extreme caution. One-in-a-million is like getting hit by lightning. So this should give you confidence that they’re not rushing any vaccines out there and whatever’s out there is very safe,” Lamont said.