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How Are Vermonters Thinking About The J&J Vaccine Pause? Here's What You Told Us

A woman in a mask next to a sign reading canceled
Anna Van Dine
VPR File
Joan Marie Misek, the Health Department's public services district director for Barre, had to inform those arriving at the Barre Auditorium last Tuesday that they could no longer get a Johnson & Johnson vaccine shot.

Vermont has suspended usage of the Johnson & Johnson vaccineuntil at least April 23 while federal health authorities investigate a severe — though very rare — reaction to the shot. In talking with your friends and families and coworkers about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause, we wanted to know: How are you doing? What are you feeling and thinking?

"I got the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Sunday, a day or two before it was paused here, and would do it again in a heartbeat. I think the risks are so tiny, and the risks of not getting vaccinated are far greater. At first I was a little worried, but as soon as, you know, I did some research and some reading, and I came to understand that this is a routine pause, it's part of a protocol. So I'm not worried about the pause, but I'm worried about the perception that vaccine-hesitant people may have. I wish the media would focus more on the routine nature of the pause rather than it being a panic button. I feel it's my responsibility to get vaccinated for myself and my family, but even more than that, for my community. And I just feel grateful that I had the opportunity to get it. And again, I would do it again."

- Jesse Klein-Seret, 44, East Montpelier

"What's so disappointing about this whole thing is, you know, I got online the day that I was eligible to sign up for a vaccine. And then we get this message from my son's university, and saying that you needed to be fully vaccinated in order to attend graduation. I canceled the appointment I had on the 14th. He graduates May 1. So there was no way to get in my two shots. So I made an appointment for the Johnson & Johnson. So I'm on the interstate driving to my appointment, and I get the call from the pharmacy saying that, 'No, we're sorry, we can't give you the vaccination today.' I am extremely disappointed. So unless something comes out from the university that says, you know, another way for us to attend, that's where I am. Not being able to to watch him graduate is ... yeah. I'm sure there's a lot of us in this boat. I wish I'd had the choice. Six women out of 6 million had a problem. I think I still would have gone forward with the Johnson & Johnson."

- Susan Enos, Swanton

"I was scheduled to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine yesterday. And when I found out the appointments were canceled earlier this week, I was really, really bummed. I did not expect to be just sort of as sad as I was. And I realized how much I was looking forward to shedding the worry around COVID, and maybe even going on a little mini-'vaccication'. But I am glad, you know, that they're taking this time to make sure that all of the doctors or clinicians and hospitals, you know, know what symptoms are to look out for, and what the treatment would be. And I'm hopeful they can start using the one-dose shot again soon."

- Janet McGlaughlin, Burlington

"I signed up for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on Monday, the 12th, when they opened it up for people 30 years and older. And then saw the news on Tuesday, and was pretty freaked out for about 10 minutes. But luckily I'm very privileged and lucky, and have been able to navigate the multiple sign-up locations and different options and look around a bunch this week. And so I was actually able to schedule myself... I'm getting the Moderna vaccine ... two weeks earlier than I would have gotten the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. I'm feeling very lucky, very privileged and very concerned for the impacts the pause is going to have on populations for whom the one-and-done Johnson & Johnson option made a lot of sense. I heard recently that the homeless population was getting that shot, just because it was so much easier to navigate than multiple appointments. And so I'm feeling very lucky. And I'm not worried about myself, but I am worried about the impacts of the pause on others for whom navigating the bureaucracy of registering for the vaccine, transporting themselves to their appointment and then the follow up and being cared for during the side effects, the folks for whom that's not as easy as it was for me."

- Christine Hill, 31, Burlington

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Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Myra Flynn joined Vermont Public in March 2021 and is the DEIB Advisor, Host and Executive Producer of Homegoings. Raised in Vermont, Myra Flynn is an accomplished musician who has come to know the lay of dirt-road land that much more intimately through touring both well-known and obscure stages all around the state and beyond. She also has experience as a teaching artist and wore many hats at the Burlington Free Press, including features reporter and correspondent, before her pursuits took her deep into the arts world. Prior to joining Vermont Public, Myra spent eight years in the Los Angeles music industry.
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