LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The highly anticipated COVID vaccine is now here in Arkansas, with the first found of vaccinations happening early this week. Doses arrived early Monday morning, with more shipments expected later this month, but the general public shouldn’t set up an appointment just yet. The Arkansas Department of Health says this first shipment is reserved for healthcare workers most likely to contract the virus. It’s likely average Arkansans won’t get their shots until next spring or summer at the earliest.
With Friday’s approval of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, Arkansans are preparing for the start of vaccinations. “We do expect the vaccines to be arriving in Arkansas in the next day or two,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with ADH Sunday night. But don’t race to the clinic just yet – the first 25,000 doses are for healthcare workers and long-term care residents. “It’s going to be many weeks before the general public will receive vaccine,” Dillaha said.
So what does this mean for the average Arkansan? First, vaccines won’t be widely available until next spring or summer, and it will take two doses to get the job done. Even after vaccination, you’ll have to wait a bit before you’re immune. “It’s going to take some time for those folks who get vaccinated to develop the needed immunity to protect themselves from the disease,” Dillaha explained. Because of this, she reminds us that we must be patient, and continue to stop the spread through 2021. “In the meantime, were all going to have to carry on with wearing masks and social distancing.” She also adds that for now, the vaccine is in limited supply, so some nurses and doctors will still have to wait for additional shipments. “We’re focusing in on vaccinating hospital workers, but it’s not enough to vaccinate all hospital workers,” Dillaha said.
The Department of Health says within the next few weeks, we can hope to see the approval of the COVID-19 vaccine from other pharmaceutical companies like Moderna. Dr. Dillaha assures the public that any vaccine approved for emergency use is safe and effective. You can learn more about COVID-19 and the vaccine here at the Arkansas Department of Health website.