COVID-19 vaccine rollout plan enters phase 1-B


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – On Monday Governor Asa Hutchinson moved the state into Tier 1B of Covid vaccination plan.  This tier adds those who are 70 and above and education workers. 

Initially, Tier 1B was going to begin February 1, but Governor Hutchinson said that the demand had declined enough in Tier 1A to move along, “1A had slowed down, we’d gotten everybody that was waiting in line to get it.”

The biggest concern now moving forward is the supply.  Arkansas is getting roughly 37,000 initial doses of the vaccine sent to the state this week and that must be equitably sent to all 75 counties in the state. 

Scott Pace with Kavanaugh Pharmacy says people need to understand what this means, “That means only 1 in 12 people in that group are eligible to really get a shot this week.”

Pace also says that the demand for the vaccine is soaring because people growing in confidence of the vaccine, “It’s working, people aren’t getting sick like they feared, they’re seeing their friends get it, it’s inspiring confidence in other folks and that’s really driving demand, and that’s good.”

Some issues in getting the vaccine out are simply logistics.  The Pfizer vaccine must stay in ultra-cold conditions until it is ready to be administered. 

Once the vaccine itself thaws out it has a shelf-life of 120 hours to use it and once it is prepped with saline it must be used within six hours. 

Pace says it has been a process for pharmacies across the state, “This is a whole new logistical challenge for everybody. So, I think we’re all learning from week to week how to make out process better.”

He also says that some state leaders have gotten an unfair amount of blame for some of the rollout issues, “The plan is great but the lynchpin in everything is the supply of vaccine and that’s not anything anyone in Arkansas can do anything about.”

Governor Hutchinson encourages patients among citizens as they are ramping up vaccine distribution as time goes and that if people are more aware of what supply is available then they will understand more if they have to wait, “But People are patient and whenever they know what’s happening they can be patient.”

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