After Detroit Spurns Vaccine, Experts Warn on 'Brand Shopping'

Mayor Duggan turned down 6.2K J&J doses, saying he wants Pfizer, Moderna for city
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 5, 2021 12:23 PM CST
Detroit Mayor Turns Down J&J Vaccine
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan speaks during a press briefing at the White House on Feb. 12, 2021, in Washington.   (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Johnson and Johnson's newly approved coronavirus vaccine doesn't have to be kept in the same ultra-cold temps as the Pfizer and Moderna versions, and patients need only one shot, as opposed to the double dose required by the other companies. But this week, the city of Detroit declined 6,200 doses of the J&J vaccine—made in Grand Rapids, per CNN—after Mayor Mike Duggan said he preferred to "protect Detroiters with a 95% vaccine," reports the Detroit Free Press. What he meant specifically, per a Thursday briefing, was that he turned down the "very good" J&J vaccine to instead use "the best": vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna. "I am going to do everything I can to make sure the residents of the city of Detroit get the best," he said. In clinical trials, Pfizer and Moderna's vaccines were shown to be 95% and 94% effective, respectively.

Johnson & Johnson's, meanwhile, came in at 66% efficacy worldwide and 72% within US trials. But health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are urging people not to "brand shop" for vaccines, especially as the J&J vaccine seems to prevent severe infection and reduce hospitalization at rates similar to Moderna's and Pfizer's. What's more, the J&J trials were conducted when COVID variants were spreading quickly, unlike the trials for the others, notes NPR. On Thursday, Duggan said if at some point there aren't enough Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to go around, the city would set up a J&J center, though he says for now that's not an issue, per Crain's Detroit Business. The HHS says Detroit didn't receive Pfizer or Moderna vaccines to compensate for the 6,200 declined J&J doses. (It's not just humans being vaccinated.)

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