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Pause on Johnson & Johnson vaccine changes plans for thousands of Hoosiers

Lucus Bendzsa and his grandmoth
Posted at 11:24 PM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 23:57:27-04

INDIANAPOLIS — When the Indiana State Department of Health announced a pause on the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine Tuesday morning, thousands of Hoosiers were preparing to get their shots at Indianapolis Motor Speedway's mass vaccination site.

First doses of Moderna were instead given out for those who wanted to keep their appointments. Those scheduled for shots at the speedway for the rest of the week are now watching closely at what health officials and the FDA decides what their next move will be.

"I made a joke earlier. I said those son of a guns were lucky to get to prick me once, not twice, but that looks like that may be the case now," Lucus Bendzsa said.

The Rose-Hulman junior from Terra Haute has a vaccination appointment at IMS on Thursday. "Great story to tell people, my grandkids years from now. Went down to the race track, got the COVID vaccine, that was the end of the pandemic. Things went up from there," he added.

Bendzsa's holding out hope that by Thursday, the FDA will give the green light for the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. "I think six cases [of blood clots] out of 7 million people...as a scientist, I don't see the cause for putting this many vaccine distributions on hold. It's great to see the FDA takes it seriously. To see how they're reacting to six cases like this, it tells you how serious they've taken this vaccine from the start."

While he plans to keep his Thursday appointment, if he has to get Moderna, Bendzsa said that's fine with him. "I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to get vaccinated."

His plan to get vaccinated at IMS is not only for the chance to drive through it, but also to protect his family.

"Throughout this pandemic, it's been about protecting her, it's been about protecting my mom," Bendzsa said. "It's never been about me. My chances of anything going wrong are not too high."

He hopes those who worried about getting vaccinated because of the temporary Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause will listen to the experts and think about those around them.

"That's why I'm getting the vaccine, to protect the people I love and the people you love," Bendzsa said.

He also hopes the partnership between government and private businesses to get the vaccine to Americans can be a model for future endeavors. "I'm so proud to see what the State of Indiana and what Governor Holcomb is doing."

Despite the sudden vaccine change, 95% of vaccine appointments were kept on Tuesday. The Indiana State Department of Health will announce at a later date how those people can sign up for their second dose.