Understanding the temporary pause on J&J vaccines as the variants spread

A nurse fills a syringe with a vaccine.
Nurse Jasmine Cowherd fills a syringe with a dose of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at Wayside Christian Mission on March 15 in Louisville, Ky.
Jon Cherry | Getty Images file

Johnson & Johnson vaccinations were temporarily halted in the United States on Tuesday, after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced they were investigating reports of rare but potentially dangerous blood clots.

The clots were found in six women between the ages of 18 and 48. More than 6.8 million doses of the J&J vaccine have already been administered in the United States, the vast majority with no or mild side effects.

Some doctors are concerned that the pause will make people who were already hesitant to get vaccinated even more reluctant. Some even wonder if the CDC was exercising too much caution. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in many states, including Minnesota — a fact largely attributed to the more transmissible variants.

Will the end of the pandemic depend more on psychology than pharmaceuticals? Wednesday, MPR News host Kerri Miller spoke with a doctor and a behaviorist about the race between the vaccines and the variants.


  • Dr. Preeti Malani is the chief health officer and a professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Michigan.

  • Uma Karmarkar is an assistant professor at UC San Diego who uses consumer psychology, behavioral economics and neuroimaging to learn how people make decisions. 

To listen to the full conversation you can use the audio player above.

Subscribe to the MPR News with Kerri Miller podcast on: Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify or RSS.

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