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Backlash against Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is real and risky – here's how to make its rollout a success

The concern is about more than one shot vs. two. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Backlash against Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is real and risky – here's how to make its rollout a success

The concern is about more than one shot vs. two. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Backlash against Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is real and risky – here's how to make its rollout a success

The concern is about more than one shot vs. two. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Backlash against Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is real and risky – here's how to make its rollout a success

The concern is about more than one shot vs. two. Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been hailed as a game changer.

Tinglong Dai, Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing; Christopher S. Tang, University of California, Los Angeles, and Ho-Yin Mak, University of Oxford

More than 50 million Americans have received at least one dose of either the Pfizer or Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. So far, Americans have been largely brand-agnostic, but that’s about to change as a new vaccine rolls out.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine has been hailed as a game changer. It requires only a single dose rather than two doses spaced weeks apart, and it does not need freezer storage, making it a natural fit for hard-to-reach rural areas and underserved communities with limited access to health care and storage facilities.

But while many people are excited about the prospects of only one shot, the new vaccine is also getting backlash. Part of that is coming from lack of clarity about the vaccines’ efficacy numbers, and part of it is more nuanced. On March 2, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops urged Catholics to avoid the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because it uses lab-grown cells that are clones of fetal tissue from abortions in the 1980s.

If states don’t plan carefully for how the vaccines are distributed, the result could be a nightmare of frustrated patients and wasted vaccine.

As experts specializing in health care operations, data analytics, and supply chain management, we have been analyzing COVID-19 vaccine rollout policies. While our research shows there is great promise for the one-dose vaccine, we believe biases against the Johnson & Johnson vaccine cannot be ignored in planning and distribution decisions.

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