Arkansas overcoming first-day obstacles in COVID-19 vaccine rollout for kids 5-11


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Arkansas began shipping out covid-19 shots for kids ages 5-11 on Wednesday to local health units across the state.  It was not without some first-day hiccups. 

In the morning on Wednesday, the vaccine was only available in half of the local health units.  Governor Asa Hutchinson is asking for patients from parents.

“We have a limited supply that will be out through the Department of Health in the local units but it’s not at 100% of those yet,” the governor explained.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Department of Health said they knew this day was coming soon but there was not much they could do ahead of time.

“We knew all along the rollout and doses would be this week, it couldn’t start until the FDA authorized it,” she said.

Dr. Jessica Snowden at Children’s Hospital said parents and staff have been anxiously awaiting the rollout of the vaccine.  She said those feelings of angst have now turned into excitement.

“It feels like Christmas morning a little bit or really like Christmas Eve where you’re waiting anxiously for what you know is coming,” Dr. Snowden said.

Dr. Snowden has a 10-year-old son and she says she has carried a heavy burden of protecting him in every way possible from covid.

Her son is also ready to get back to a sense of normal again.

“My son is excited he can eat in restaurants again, he’s really, really excited about that,” she said.

Dr. Snowden guessed that restaurant is Chuck E. Cheese. 

She encourages people to talk with their pediatricians about the vaccine because there will be side effects similar to what adults have experienced with the shot.  She said kids have been more hardened to effects from covid but some do end up in the hospital from the virus.

She feels the vaccine is the best way to get back to “before covid” as there can be.

“We can get them back to what normal childhood was supposed to be and being able to protect this elementary age range is a key piece in that,” Dr. Snowden said.

Officials say vaccines should be available in pharmacies and other clinics by next week but first rounds will be sent to facilities that are authorized to give vaccines to kids. 

UAMS and Baptist Health have said they will have a better idea of how much of the vaccine they will be receiving and the procedures they will put in place on Thursday.

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