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Doctor on Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine, distribution progress

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As federal health agencies end their recommended pause on use of Johnson and Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, CBS News chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook joins "CBS This Morning: Saturday" to answer questions about the vaccine and progress the U.S. has made with vaccine distribution.

Video Transcript

- CBS News Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Jon LaPook, is back in the building in Studio 57 joining us now. Good morning.

JON LAPOOK: Good morning. Together again.

- I know. Can you believe it? What is your take on the panel's latest recommendations? And did the vote go as you expected?

JON LAPOOK: It, it absolutely did. It didn't surprise me at all. This is a very rare side effect, one in a million in women over 50 and seven in a million and women under 50. You heard Tony Fauci say 560,000 deaths. It's devastating.

The J&J vaccine does have some advantages, one and done. It's easily stored. So yeah, not at all surprised.

- Jon, you mentioned the ages, but is there anything else you can take us-- tell us about the women, the 15 cases of women that have these clots.

JON LAPOOK: You know, only 15 women, 7 of them were obese, two were hypertensive, two were on birth control pills. We're going to have to wait a lot longer to see exactly what the risk factors are.

- So if there's some coexisting factor possibly.

JON LAPOOK: Exactly.

- But still some members of the panel did vote against the restart. So I think that creates pause for some people. Hesitancy, vaccine hesitancy, is down from 39% just a couple months ago to 17%. Where do you see that going next?

JON LAPOOK: That's exactly right. You know, about 20-- 20% of Americans say they're not taking it. They're never going to take it, or they'd only take it if it was mandated.

So figured 20% aren't going to take it. We need 75% to 80% of the population vaccinated to get herd immunity. So the 17% of people who are watchful waiting, they're going to wait and see, they're on the fence, that's who we've got to really address.

- Yeah, but how much does that delay us? And I hate to be the debbie downer here, but what, what does that-- what kind of impact does that have?

JON LAPOOK: You know, it remains to be seen. To me, I think this whole pause gave me a lot of confidence in the process, because think about it. You're picking up-- you're picking up a side effect that's rare, one in a million, seven in a million. And people are so worried this came out so quickly. How are we going to know it's safe?

You had to have listened-- I'm glad you didn't-- but I listened to the hours, and hours, and hours of the testimony at that these panels for the CDC. You cannot believe the intelligence, how smart, how careful the expertise that they are-- they're bringing to the table. These are the smartest people in the world.

They have been preparing their entire life for this moment. And you know, I think people can have confidence that the FDA took this very seriously. The CDC was all on it. And if I'm at home, I don't want to have to be reading all those journals myself.

There are really smart people who are dealing with it. They took it seriously. They found something that was one in a million very, very rare. And they're doing something about it.

- There are still people though, and I talked to somebody the other day, who feels like we just-- we don't know enough yet. We haven't had it out there long enough. What can you say to those people?

Thank you for that question. OK. The number one question I'm getting is it was developed so quickly, you know, in two months. It wasn't.

This is based on technology that's decades old. 2003, SARS-1, 20 months to do the vaccine. Over the years, less and less and less, because of platform technology. So with H1N1, swine flu, Ebola.

Zika was three months. This was two months. So it was basically using a technology.

To sort of use an analogy. It's like they had a vaccine for Zika, for example. They screwed off the part that made it specific for Zika, OK, screwed on the part that, made it specific for SARS-CoV-1. And they had a vaccine.

So it wasn't like somebody said, let's make a vaccine. We can use my mother's barn. No. It was done based on decades of taxpayer funded research.

- Very quickly, 10 seconds. When do we hit herd immunity?

JON LAPOOK: Depends on everybody out there. Please go ahead and ask me questions online, you know, at Dr. LaPook. Tell me.

I got to listen. That's what we have to do. Listen to people, rather than just saying, here's why you shouldn't be hesitant.

- OK. Dr, once again, good to see you here--

JON LAPOOK: Great to see you, guys.

- --at the studio. All right.