US surgeon general on J&J pause, vaccine hesitancy, summer vacations

U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy spoke with Eyewitness News about what comes next for Americans in the battle against COVID-19.

For the nation's top doctor, beating COVID-19 is not just a professional mission - but a personal one. He shared that he has lost seven family members to the virus.

"It's cost us more than 560,000 lives of friends and family members, I myself and my family have lost seven family members," Murthy said.

Murthy said we're in a race to get as many Americans vaccinated as soon as possible.



The pause of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine might be unsettling for some, but he said, "The number of cases that we're talking about are so relatively small compared to the seven million people who received this vaccine."

The CDC announced it's examining a "handful" of additional reports of severe side effects in people who received a Johnson & Johnson shot.

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Murthy said soon, the CDC and the FDA are expected to release new recommendations that may include a narrower parameter of who should receive the vaccine. He said this entire safety review should offer reassurance.

"It's so important that people have faith in the safety system," he said. " And safety is ultimately our top priority."
More than 50% of adults have received at least one dose of the vaccine. He said if you're hesitant, have a discussion with a trusted health care provider or a family member.

"Confidence is rising in the country. We've seen that even in stats from December until now. There are more and more people who say that they either have already gotten the vaccine or that they want to get the vaccine as soon as possible," Murthy said.

Proof of vaccinations such as a vaccine passport is something businesses are looking at requiring. Dr. Murthy says the federal government won't be issuing them, but he wants to ensure the process is fair and equitable.

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"In a way that honors people's privacy and protects them. And that's also accessible to people of all socioeconomic groups so it's not an expensive thing and is limited by your access to technology," he said.

Murthy said he knows people in Southern California are itching to take summer vacations, but he advises avoiding countries with high infection rates and to look for ideas closer to home.

Think about summer barbecues and being with your friends and family, " he said, "This is what we've got to do together. Getting vaccinated. Helping each other get vaccinated. That's how we turn this pandemic around."


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