Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan caused a bit of an uproar last week when he said he was declining 6,200 doses of the Johnson & Johnson coronavirus vaccine. The mayor at the time said he wanted Detroiters to get “the best” vaccines on the market. Public health experts say the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is highly effective, especially where it matters most right now — preventing hospitalizations and deaths. But there is a perception about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine that public health officials want to combat, as they tell Americans to get the first vaccine available to us.
“He’s basically declaring one vaccine better than another. That’s the problem, the mayor has spread misinformation about a vaccine and that misinformation is going to take hold in some portion of the population.” — Chad Livengood, Crain’s Detroit Business
Duggan has since said the city will accept future shipments of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and penned an op-ed in the Detroit Free Press seeming to walk back statements about Johnson & Johnson being an inferior vaccine. He is now urging Detroiters to get whichever vaccine becomes available to them first.
Last week, the mayor’s office sent WDET this statement attributed to Duggan:
“Every single eligible Detroiter can call today, make an appointment, and will receive a Moderna/Pfizer vaccine next week [now this week] at the TCF Center. As vaccine eligibility expands, Detroit will open a second site offering Johnson & Johnson vaccines. I have full confidence that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is both safe and effective. We are making plans now for Johnson & Johnson to be a key part of our expansion of vaccine centers and are looking forward to receiving Johnson & Johnson vaccines in the next allocation.”
Listen: Chad Livengood of Crain’s Detroit Business talks about how the damage has been done during a very critical time.
Chad Livengood is senior editor of Crain’s Detroit Business. He wrote a column in Crain’s titled, “Why Duggan’s rejection of J&J vaccine is dangerous in Michigan’s fight to end the pandemic.”
“He’s basically declaring one vaccine better than another. That’s the problem, the mayor has spread misinformation about a vaccine and that misinformation is going to take hold in some portion of the population,” Livengood says.
Livengood also says the mayor’s comments about the effectiveness of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is not within his realm of expertise. ”The problem with the mayor saying he wants the best is that Mike Duggan is not an epidemiologist or even a doctor. He’s a lawyer by trade. Yes, he ran a hospital, that doesn’t mean he’s a scientist,” he says.
Web story written by Allise Hurd