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With J&J vaccine paused, health officials work to combat vaccine reluctancy

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Posted at 5:38 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-14 09:26:56-04

The first week of the "Get out the Vax" campaign saw a 7% uptick in vaccinations throughout the Greater Cincinnati region. Pauses on the Johnson & Johnson single-shot vaccine in Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio have affected available vaccine supply and public confidence.

"If we've learned anything in this pandemic, it's that the ground is never steady underneath us," said Kate Schroder, special adviser for vaccine coordination for the "Get out the Vax" campaign.

Vaccine centers and workers now have to address concerns people have about the overall safety of COVID-19 vaccinations, while meeting what is still a significant demand for shots.

"The issues that we've seen with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have not presented at all with Pfizer or Moderna," said Schroder. "These are not concerns we have at all with the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, so really encourage folks to get the vaccine that is available to you."

Dr. Steve Feagins, Hamilton County Public Health's director, said there are concerns about public hesitancy to get vaccinated, but the demand is still strong. He said the main priority is finding a way to meet that demand.

"I still believe that the demand is exceeding supply, but we're beginning to have issues where we may have vaccine over here, but not over there, and so really matching that up," said Feagins.

Schroder said the "Get out the Vax" campaign's current focus is to meet that demand, and find a way to meet it closer to home for more Cincinnatians.

"Working with the hospitality industry and with Thunderdome to help do a targeted vaccination effort with their employee base in the hospitality and restaurant industry, and I think that is something we're going to see more and more of," she said.

She pointed to the decline in cases among older adults who are now able to resume more activities safely as proof the vaccines are safe and work.

"I got the J&J vaccine," said Schroder. "I think we're all waiting. We think it's appropriate that the government is taking this temporary pause to make sure we have all the information and know what might be out there."

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Senior Reporter Larry Seward is focusing his reporting on the COVID-19 vaccine to bring you answers and information. Contact Larry at 513-667-4804 or larry.seward@wcpo.com.