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Brazos Hub sees uptick in people wanting COVID-19 vaccine following pause in use of J&J vaccine

Posted at 9:00 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 22:00:39-04

BRYAN, TEXAS — Earlier Tuesday, the Texas Department of State Health Services asked vaccine providers in Texas to pause all administration of the Johnson & Johnson/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine following recommendation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

The pause came after reports of blood clots from six people who had received the vaccine.

Many were attracted to the J&J vaccine because it only requires one dose rather than two doses.

Now that it is off the market temporarily, what impact will it have on vaccination efforts in Brazos County?

Chief Jim Stewart, Brazos County's COVID-19 Vaccination Task Force leader, says the temporary pause does not affect the Brazos County Vaccination Hub directly.

The hub typically administers the Moderna vaccine, but the J&J pause prompted many to show up to receive their initial dose.

"Within the first hour, we saw 310 actual individuals come in for vaccines. Our average is... we usually see 212 to 215 in an hour. We had a drastic increase in the first hour," said Tradd Mills, incident commander at the Brazos Hub.

Chief Stewart says when they added 5,000 vaccination slots to the website Friday, over half were unclaimed as of Monday morning. That prompted officials to open the hub up to everyone Tuesday, appointment or not, and the numbers spoke for themselves with the crowd seen Tuesday morning.

Assessing the visibly large crowd, Chief Stewart says their staff conducted an informal survey to see what drew people to the hub.

"The three reasons they [staff] got from a very informal survey of the people waiting in line, one that it was there and they didn't have to register for it and they could just show up. Two is that they [visitors] got the word Johnson & Johnson was going to be off the market and they were the folks who were waiting for the one injection vaccine, so they decided we better go ahead and do it, and three, a third group of responses said it was just so convenient," he said.

Mills says the news of the J&J pause plus the announcement that the hub was allowing walk-ins brought more people in.

One College Station resident in line Tuesday morning said while he did hear of the Johnson & Johnson announcement, he knew the hub didn't administer it anyway.

"My priority was to get the vaccine in general. I didn't think that was really an issue. I have family members that I am trying to take care of, so I am just doing my part," Andrew Chin said.

For Claudia Ochoa, she wanted to get anything other than the Johnson & Johnson vaccine and took the first opportunity available.

"That was the only one I didn't want whatsoever. I was just nervous about it because of the blood clots and everything, and I myself am a very sickly person, so I didn't want to mess with it," she said.

Residents also noticed the increase in numbers Tuesday.

"When I drove up, there was a pretty big line. I had to wait awhile to get into this tent. The parking lot was pretty full... it took me a hot second to find a parking spot. When I came up, there were lines almost all the way out to these benches," Patricia Davis said.

Chief Stewart says there is still so much unknown about the COVID-19 vaccine and COVID-19 in general. Experts are learning new things every day and adjusting accordingly.