Governor fears ‘pause’ of J&J shots could increase hesitancy

Utah Gov. Spencer Cox speaks during a news conference before receiving his first dose of the Pfizer vaccine Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Spanish Fork, Utah. Utah is on pace to remove all coronavirus-related restrictions by July if transmission rates keep dropping, but the situation could change, Cox said Thursday. He urged residents to get vaccinated as soon as possible and to remain cautious. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah's Republican governor said Thursday he was concerned that the U.S. decision to recommend a “pause” in use of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could make it more difficult to reach rural and minority communities.

Gov. Spencer Cox said the single dose vaccine had helped expand vaccine administration to the state's smaller, isolated towns that are harder to reach. Cox said the pause in distribution “shouldn’t disrupt us much” but “could slow things down in getting to those harder-to-reach communities," The Salt Lake Tribune reported.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration announced Tuesday that they were looking into unusual clots in six women between the ages of 18 and 48. One person died.

Cox added that he was worried that the CDC's recommendation could further fuel vaccine hesitancy concerns.

Newly reported coronavirus cases and hospitalizations in Utah have been on a downward trend since January but have recently plateaued. More than 741,000 of the state’s 3.2 million residents have been fully vaccinated, according to state data.

More than 391,000 virus cases have been reported in Utah, along with 2,162 known deaths, according to state data.

For most people, the coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough that clear up in two to three weeks. For some — especially older adults and people with existing health problems — it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia, and death.

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