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Biden administration will spend $3bn to combat vaccine hesitancy following J&J pause

Danielle Zoellner
·2-min read
A man receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a vaccination site in Chicago (AFP via Getty Images)
A man receives the Johnson & Johnson vaccine at a vaccination site in Chicago (AFP via Getty Images)

The White House has announced how it intends to address vaccine hesitancy as Covid-19 vaccination rollouts continue, and it included utilising $3bn in funding towards inoculation messaging that would increase public confidence.

"Building vaccine confidence and increasing access to vaccination is central to our efforts," said Jeffrey Zients, the White House Covid-19 response coordinator, during a Covid-19 press briefing on Wednesday.

The $3bn in funding was an investment going directly to states that would assist them in providing messaging to residents about the safety of the vaccines. Mr Zients said the priority was to push "fact-based messaging and resources into the hands of trusted, local messengers."

Previously the White House has highlighted how local faith and community leaders could make the most impact in increasing confidence for the vaccines within specific communities. These leaders would likely be the “trusted, local messengers” used to relay vaccine messaging.

This investment comes after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommended states pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine after six people developed severe blood clots.

Out of the more than 7.2 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine administered, six women developed rare blood clots. One person died as a result.

Critics have warned that the vaccine pause could increase hesitancy among those who are unvaccinated and further discourage them from getting a Covid-19 vaccine.

But Mr Zients again repeated on Wednesday that the public could view the safety steps the FDA was taking towards the vaccine as a positive, thereby increasing their confidence in the vaccines available.

"Yesterday's action should give the American people confidence in the FDA and CDC, the thoroughness of the review process, and their commitment to transparency and protection of public health. We believe that by empowering Americans with data and facts, we will strengthen the public's trust in government, and increase their confidence in the vaccine," Mr Zients said.

Public confidence in the vaccine has increased in recent months as more and more Americans receive one of the available Covid-19 jabs.

A survey conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation in late March found that 37 per cent of Americans said they would not receive a Covid-19 vaccine. This was down compared to the 44 per cent in the beginning of March and the 51 per cent in January who said they would not receive the jab.

It was unclear if the country would see a dip in vaccine confidence amid the Johnson & Johnson news.

More than 122 million Americans have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine and over 75 million were fully vaccinated from the novel virus, according to data from the CDC.

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