Massachusetts medical experts express concern about vaccine hesitancy amid Johnson & Johnson pause

The nationwide pause on administering the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine has some Massachusetts medical experts concerned about a rise in vaccine hesitancy.

“My biggest concern at this point is not that the vaccine is not safe … it’s the potential damage that could be done to public trust,” Dr. Benjamin Linas of Boston University told state lawmakers during a hearing Tuesday on the spread of COVID-19 variants.

Dr. Nahid Bhadelia, an infectious diseases physician and Boston University associate professor, said that while the pause on J&J is the right thing to do, it “will fuel some of the vaccine hesitancy, you might see that group grow.”

But she said that hesitancy might be reduced by “moving vaccines closer to patients” so they can more readily talk to their providers about their concerns.

Dr. Dan Barouch of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center said the pause shows a “commitment to safety” as federal agencies investigate the cases of potentially rare blood clotting in six J&J recipients.

But he said “if one of the three vaccines is either not used, or has to be restricted for use, then it will necessarily slow down the vaccine process” at a time when Massachusetts and the nation are locked in a race to vaccinate against variants.

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