The Federal government has halted the administration of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine due to a rare blood clotting issue that has affected six Americans. Many are calling this a temporary hurdle in the vaccination drive, but experts believe that the U.S. is hurtling toward a “vaccine wall”, where the demand for the vaccine declines in the face of increasing supply. To put it another way, very soon many Americans may not be as interested in getting the vaccine at all.
The U.S has already done a lot of things right when it came to vaccines. 63 percent of the country’s seniors have already been vaccinated and this week, eligibility expands to include Americans over 16. However, we’re looking at a couple of weeks where vaccination centers will have to adjust to the shortage of J&J vaccines and the demand for Pfizer and Moderna.
To be fair, there is a sizable number of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines available, with 440 million doses to be delivered by the end of May. However, in the long-term supply won’t matter as much as the flagging demand. This has already started to happen. New York City has seen residents canceling vaccination appointments for the first time in four months. 14 states have been administering less than 75 percent of the doses they have. Data shows that red states across the South and Great Plains will probably become the first states where supply exceeds demand. Blue states in the Northeast will soon follow suit.
The increasingly warm weather, widening immunity, and Americans who have either been reluctant, skeptical or on the fence about the vaccine are contributing factors to the vaccine wall. To combat these factors, the U.S. will have to flip a third of American adults in favor of the vaccine. This will have to be done via a strategy of persuasion tactics and more robust delivery systems.