Poll: Demand for J&J vaccine plummets, but vaccine confidence holds mostly steady

Data from SurveyMonkey and Outbreaks Near Me

Americans’ willingness to get the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine plummeted following the CDC’s mandated pause, according to new survey data released by SurveyMonkey and Outbreaks Near Me, a team of epidemiologists based at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Harvard Medical School.

So far, the impact of the dramatic regulatory announcement has been limited to the J&J vaccine, with no big movement on broader confidence -- or reluctance -- to seek out vaccinations now that the government has made them available to all Americans ages 16 and up. 

In the new data, which surveys more than 40,000 people per week continuously, fewer than than one in five (19%) U.S. adults who aren’t yet vaccinated but who want a vaccine are now willing to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, down sharply from before the CDC action (it was 47% on April 12, the day before the pause was announced). Demand for the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, by contrast, has held steady or increased slightly.

Looking just at the week before the pause was announced, and comparing to the week following the announcement, we can see an even clearer picture of a drop in demand for Johnson & Johnson and a slight uptick in demand for Moderna and Pfizer. 

Among those who haven’t yet been vaccinated and who are not sure whether they will get vaccinated, these trends are consistent but less drastic. The percent of this subgroup willing to get the Johnson & Johnson vaccine fell from 33% in the week before the announcement to 17% in the seven days following the announcement, while Moderna and Pfizer both made modest gains. 

Overall vaccine confidence holds steady

Just over half of adults in the U.S. are now vaccinated against COVID-19, and as of yesterday everyone age 16 and over in the U.S. is eligible to get vaccinated. Last week’s Johnson & Johnson pause has a very modest effect on vaccine confidence: 21% of adults overall now say they will not get vaccinated, ticking up slightly from 18% in early March; 13% of adults are still not sure if they will get vaccinated, down from 18% in early March. 

These two groups—those who say they won’t get vaccinated and those who are still not sure—had started to gradually diverge in early April, and are continuing on that trend after the Johnson & Johnson pause. 

From Dr. John Brownstein, Chief Innovation Officer at Boston Children’s Hospital and founder of Outbreaks Near Me:

“While the J&J pause reflects the good science and monitoring performed by CDC and FDA, it is not surprising that population confidence dropped immediately after the identification of rare but serious events.

We have to remember that this pause is not permanent and reflects a need to collect additional data to ensure we can give patients and providers accurate information. We expect confidence to recover after the rollout resumes especially if supplemented with targeted education campaigns.”

The Johnson & Johnson effect by demographics

Women under age 49 are most at risk of the blood clots that spurred the Johnson & Johnson pause, but the drop in willingness to receive that vaccine was consistent for both men of women, and among all age groups. 

From April 6-12, 46% of women age 18-48 who were willing to get vaccinated said they were  willing to receive the Johnson & Johnson vaccine; from April 13-19, just 17% of women in the same age group said they were willing to get the J&J shot.

Other data related to the Johnson & Johnson pause:

  • The Axios-Ipsos coronavirus index finds no change in vaccine hesitancy before and after the CDC’s pause last week (link)

  • A few thoughts from the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Liz Hamel on the potential effect of the Johnson & Johnson pause: