Concerns halt on J&J vaccine could upend efforts in Omaha’s minority communities

There’s a pause on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a concern among those working to build trust in the vaccine.
Published: Apr. 13, 2021 at 9:57 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - The FDA’s halt on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine is causing concern among those working to build trust in the vaccine among communities of color.

“I was pretty shocked because I just got my vaccine yesterday at Metro, the Fort Campus,” said Anna Johnson, who received the Johnson and Johnson vaccine. “I then to hear today that they’re pausing it I thought, ‘Oh my goodness, really?’.”

At the age of 37, she falls into the category more at risk of blood clots, possibly connected to the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

“It kind of makes me a bit nervous especially because they just postponed everything,” she added.

And it’s making those on the ground a bit nervous too, getting one call after another.

“It’s been since this morning. all day long,” said Doris Lassiter, Health Ministry Director of New Era Baptist State Convention of Nebraska.

She’s determined not to let the halt on the J&J shot undo efforts to build trust in the vaccine.

“I’ve been busy calling all the churches, everyone’s been calling me about the Johnson and Johnson,” said Lassiter.

Lassiter is staying on message, encouraging minority people to get the vaccine, and get caught up with white people, who are getting the shot at a much faster pace.

“So let’s move on and get the other vaccines,” said Lassiter. “Let’s not stop the pace we’re doing, in fact, we need to speed it up more.”

But shelving Johnson and Johnson isn’t going to help. The one-and-done shot is key in getting to those harder to reach, used in meatpacking plants and mobile clinics.

Making the push for vaccines is perhaps more important now than ever.

“And continue to promote and manage our clinics in North Omaha quite frankly, with the Moderna, with the Pfizer,” said Lassiter.

As for Anna, she’s not jaded by Johnson and Johnson. In fact, she’s encouraging others to get vaccinated.

“I know there’s some hesitancy, especially with the black community, or people of color, but it’s really important because we’re trying to stop the spread of this virus.”

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