US surgeon general talks vaccinations, Johnson & Johnson vaccine

Dr. Vivek Murthy discusses the importance of getting vaccinated.
5:57 | 04/22/21

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Transcript for US surgeon general talks vaccinations, Johnson & Johnson vaccine
The U.S. Has passed two very important covid-19 milestones. The CDC is reporting that over 50% of adults have now received at least one dose of a covid-19 inoculation. Yes, another milestone here as of this week, all Americans 16 and up are now eligible for the vaccine. And here now to discuss is the U.S. Surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy. Sir, thank you so much for being here with us. Look, we talk about these milestones but we're also seeing some of these vaccinations numbers are going down, some declines, so you tell me what you think it is. We talk so much about the hesitancy, but now are some people just indifferent over it, don't think it's a big deal and no urgency to get the vaccine anymore? Let me just, first of all, just step back and look at where we are right now. If you had told me a year ago that we would have multiple vaccines to offer the public that were highly effective and that we would have already delivered more than 200 million of those shots into the arms of Americans all over the country, I would have said, hmm, that's maybe a little too ambitious, but thankfully that's where we are, and it is a remarkable milestone we've got to remember, but we've got more work to do if we want to vaccinate the entire country, and what we know is there is a small portion of the population that's got questions about the vaccine, and some people also were wondering, hmm, is this really important for me to get, maybe I'm young, maybe I'm in the lower risk category. The answer is absolutely yes. It's still important for everyone to get vaccinated. And we've got fortunately a lot of data on these vaccines right now, because they've been given to more than 130 million people in the United States, and the safety profile of these vaccines continues to remain quite strong. So this is why we are recommending that people look strongly at the vaccines, get vaccinated, help your family members get vaccinated as well this. That is ultimately how we are going to turn this pandemic around. And, sure, there are people, plenty of people who are generally hesitant about getting a vaccine but specifically with the news of Johnson & Johnson and its vaccine had been put on hold for a very rare blood clotting potential link, how do you overcome that when people say, see, I knew it wasn't safe, and it creates even more hesitancy, how do you overcome that? Well, that's such a good question, and it's obviously the question that's on many people's minds right now. Let me first say, if people have questions on the j&j pause, that's okay, that's understandable. We want people to be paying attention and thinking about these issues but a few things I would point out. Number one, the number of events 6 out of more than 7 million people who received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, these are extremely rare events. Keep in mind, that's less than one in a million rate. That's smaller than your rate of your likelihood of actually getting hit by lightning. But what we also know is that the safety system stopped immediately and picked up that signal and went to investigate. That's actually evidence of what you want in a safety system which is responsiveness, and we will see where the investigation leads with the CDC. I anticipate we will have data within just -- and a decision within just a few days. But finally keep in mind this, that we envision the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, we have two other vaccines, the pfizer and modern vaccine, that have been given to the vast, vast majority people of America and those safety profiles still remain strong. The CDC is getting more and more real world data showing that they're highly effective in reducing infections and deaths and that's why we're in a very fortunate position, a vaccine and vaccination, we have to get people to vaccination clinics and we got to get people to talk to their doctor to answer their questions and ultimately get vaccinated because that's how we're going to protect ourselves and our families. Dr. Murthy, so many Americans asking once I get vaccinated, what can I do differently and we're starting to see CDC revise guidelines about travel and small at home gatherings with other vaccinated individuals. What can you tell us about plans to add more to that list so really can encourage people once they get vaccinated, how we behave in day-to-day life can start to look a little different? Well, this is a timely question, I know it's on a lot of people's mind, my mom asked me this question now that she is vaccinated, she wants to know what she can do as well, and fortunately what we're seeing is a slow and steady March toward increased, you know, freedom, if you will, to do the kind of activities that we were doing beforehand. And it's coming slowly because we still remember, millions of people are not vaccinated in this country, but the CDC has already said that if you are vaccinated, that you can get together with other people who are fully vaccinated, indoors and without masks. Again, that would have been unthinkable a year ago but fortunately that's where we've come. They've also said that if you need to travel and you're fully vaccinated, that that is actually a low risk activity, which is something that many people wanted to get back to. And my guess is we're going to see more and more progress in allowing people to do more and more and, one, the more people get vaccinated and, two, the quicker we're able to get levels of infection down in our country, so we're making progress. I want people to feel heartened by that. But we still have more work to do. And finally just keep in mind this, this vaccination effort, which is arguably the most ambitious vaccination campaign in the history of the united States, this is made possible by the fact that we have multiple effective vaccines, but it's going to succeed not just because of what government does, but because of what each of us decides to do. We get the information we need to get vaccinated, and if we also then turn around and ask our family and friends what their plan is to get vaccinate and then help them get the information they need or make an appointment, that's ultimately how we build a movement in our country, to protect our communities and to ultimately turn this pandemic around. Well, with all that you're doing for the public health service in the United States, we thank you for taking the time to be with us today. U.S. Surgeon general Dr. Vivek Murthy, thanks for being on. Great to be with you. Take care and stay safe. All right, well up next,

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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