More than 100 inmates in the Hall County Jail or the Hall County Correctional Institution were vaccinated against COVID-19 this month, according to public health and law enforcement officials.
A District 2 Public Health spokesman said the state prison on Barber Road chose to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine on May 14 and May 21, administering it to 25 and 43 inmates, respectively, on those dates.
According to the Georgia Department of Corrections, 24,139 inmates of the estimated 49,000 inmates across the state’s prison system have been vaccinated as of Wednesday, May 26.
Hall Warden Walt Davis said the single-dose option was optimal because they did not “have to disrupt our operations to have them come down here multiple times.”
The warden said notices were placed on the dorm windows, and inmates were able to sign up on a sheet along with filling out a consent form.
“Because our population is so low right now, we’re close to 70%, which is where we need to be (for herd immunity),” Davis said. “We’ve gotten some additional people in from various facilities that are already vaccinated.”
Davis previously told The Times the CI had 96 inmates, less than half than its usual capacity of 200 inmates for the 240-bed facility.
Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Derreck Booth said the jail division vaccinated inmates on May 18. Booth said the jail staff had initially identified 75 inmates who were willing to receive the vaccine, but only 52 inmates wanted the shot on the day it was administered.
The Hall County Jail chose to use the Pfizer two-dose version instead of the Johnson & Johnson one-dose version after talks with the health department.
“While the Health Department indicated Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen vaccine could be used, it would come with the warning for the risk of thrombosis with thrombocytopenia syndrome,” Booth said.
The syndrome, which can cause blood clots, caused the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to pause administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine before reviewing it and resuming administration again in late April. The CDC and FDA resumed administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine April 23.
“A review of all available data at this time shows that the J&J/Janssen COVID-19 vaccine’s known and potential benefits outweigh its known and potential risks for those recommended to receive it,” according to the CDC. “However, women younger than 50 years old especially should be aware of the rare risk of blood clots with low platelets after vaccination, and that other COVID-19 vaccines are available where this risk has not been seen.”
The date for the second round of vaccinations is June 8 in the Hall County Jail.
The inmates’ vaccination cards from the health department are being placed with the inmates’ property, Booth said.
“If a vaccinated inmate is released prior to June 8, they will be provided with information on where to go for the second dose,” Booth said.