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'A major setback' | Fayette County postpones Johnson & Johnson mass vaccination event

The event was put on hold amid reports of unusual blood clots in people who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

LA GRANGE, Texas — Jamie Fabre planned to get her Johnson & Johnson vaccine at the Fayette County fairgrounds on Saturday.

The mass vaccination event scheduled to be held at the Fayette County Fairgrounds was put on hold amid reports of unusual blood clots in people who received Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine, according to County officials.

"If anything, it would just possibly help me not spread it to my family, my elder family members," Fabre said. "We're a close family. My mom works at an assisted living place here in the community and definitely deals with the elderly. We take care of our grandparents who are 84 and 80 years old."

Cheryl Ann Meek contracted COVID-19 in January, calling it the worst experience she's ever had.

"Probably the first or second week of February was when it went from COVID-19 to double pneumonia," Meek said.

Meek added she started writing letters to her children in the event the pneumonia or complications from COVID-19 killed her.

"We didn't have to go buy a plot or put me 6 feet under – I'm happy about that," Meek said.

Meek wanted the Johnson & Johnson vaccine because she's afraid of needles – it only requires one dose. Now with Saturday's event postponed, it's unclear how much longer she will have to wait for the vaccine.

The county had 2,000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines it was going to administer on Saturday, April 17, in La Grange. 

“The State notified me [Tuesday] morning that, out of an abundance of caution, all Johnson & Johnson shot clinics have been placed on hold. This is due to a recommendation from the federal authorities to pause providing the vaccines in response to reported cases of blood clots,” said Fayette County Chief of Emergency Management Craig Moreau.

The FDA and CDC are currently reviewing six cases involving people who developed blood clots after receiving the vaccine.

“Six cases out of more than 6.8 million doses administered is a fraction of a percentage point, but must still be addressed. In other parts of the world, similar vaccine efforts were paused but have since been restarted because the benefits of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination outweighed the risks. We will have to wait and see if the FDA comes to the same conclusions,” Moreau said.

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For months, Moreau and Fayette County have been administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine to provide convenience.

"It's a major setback for us," Moreau said. "The Johnson & Johnson vaccines were very, very convenient because you only had to give it once and didn't have to follow up and keep track of people. It just means logistically much, much, much easier."

However, students will still be able to get the Pfizer vaccine from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Fayette County Fairgrounds on Saturday. The county will have 100 doses dedicated to students 16 years or older. A parent or guardian needs to be present for the student to receive a vaccine. 

County officials will still be hosting mass vaccination events on Friday, April 16, for 1,000 first doses of the Moderna vaccine and another on Monday, April 19, for second-dose vaccines for those who got the first shot on March 22. 

“The Moderna shot clinic scheduled for this Friday may be one of the last opportunities for people to get vaccinated [here] in a drive-thru clinic," Moreau said. "The hub in Washington County has notified us that they are going to close their shot clinic at the end of the month. We will hold one more second-dose clinic in May for people who receive their first shot on Friday, but we are reevaluating the need for these large drive-thru clinics. Our goal from the beginning of the vaccine effort has been to get vaccines to the doctors, hospitals and pharmacies that know their patients best. We are close to making this goal a reality.”

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