Americans should have more trust in the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) following the decision to pause administering Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said on Wednesday.
The White House messaging comes amid growing concerns that the news could discourage people from getting vaccinated in the first place.
On Tuesday morning, the FDA and CDC released a joint recommendation advising health care providers to stop administering Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccines “out of an abundance of caution,” following an FDA advisory reporting that six women in the U.S. developed a rare blood-clotting disorder that led to the death of one woman and put another in critical condition.
Acting FDA Commissioner Janet Woodcock said the pause was expected to last for just “a matter of days.”
Shortly after the FDA and CDC held a press conference on its recommended pause of J&J vaccine distribution, several states moved to cease its distribution.
During a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing the next day, Zients assured the media that the Biden administration is on track to fulfill the President’s goal of administering 200 million shots by his 100th day in office, despite the pause on J&J distribution.
Emphasizing the Biden administration’s commitment to “lead with science,” Zients said that the administration has been engaging state and local health officials, governors, community leaders, clinicians and medical experts in the past 24 hours to provide clear information on the rationale behind the pause.
Reiterating the administration’s efforts to build vaccine confidence — which includes the White House’s $3 billion investment in supporting local efforts to increase vaccine confidence — Zients argued the Biden administration’s transparency on serious side effects reported in the J&J vaccines gives more reason for the public to have trust in the FDA and CDC as well as COVID-19 vaccines themselves.
“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,” Zients said. “We believe that by empowering Americans with data and facts, we will strengthen public’s trust in government and increase their confidence in the vaccines.”
CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky echoed Zients’ message as well.
“I want to share with you my confidence with the system we have in place,” Walensky said. “Jointly the CDC and FDA were able to identify these rare events and act quickly to alert health care providers and the public. This demonstrates that the safety systems we have in place are working.”
Walenky affirmed that health officials will continue to monitor vaccinations and adverse events across the country, and that the pause on J&J vaccinations will allow officials to accelerate the reporting of serious side effects.
Watch the briefing below: