Education staff members and individuals aged 70 and older will soon be able to receive a COVID-19 vaccination soon.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson announced on Tuesday, Jan. 12 that the state will be partly moving into Phase 1-B of the state’s vaccine plan. Currently, the state is still implementing Phase 1-A of the vaccine plan.
Starting Monday, Jan. 18, teachers and education staff members in K-12 schools, child care and higher education will be able to receive vaccines. In addition, Arkansans aged 70 and older will be eligible for vaccines.
While Phase 1-A is still underway, Hutchinson said that the state is aiming to boost its vaccination rate by increasing the number of those eligible for vaccination. “The reason for this is we want to continue to increase, as fast as we can, getting these doses into the arms of Arkansans, and at the same time, being able to manage the limited supply that we’re given,” he said.
To date, the state has received 227,500 doses of vaccine and has given out 89,449 doses for a rate of 39.3 percent of doses given out. In addition, there have been 3,884 vaccine doses administered to those in long-term care in Arkansas under a federal contract with CVS and Walgreens so far, out of a total 24,700 doses allocated.
Individuals aged 70 and older will be able to receive vaccines through participating community pharmacies and calling ahead to make an appointment. Some hospitals and health care providers will also be providing vaccine clinics in different regions of the state.
Hutchinson noted that this will be a “county-by-county approach.”
Teachers and other school staff will receive vaccinations through their school employers, with Hutchinson saying that school districts will drive the vaccination effort. He advised school district leaders to begin contacting local health care providers to begin setting up vaccination clinics for school employees.
“This is a ground up, from the grassroots up, initiative where it starts with the school districts contacting the providers and managing it when we have the doses that they can schedule a clinic,” Hutchinson said.
When asked about possibly releasing vaccines more widely, Hutchinson told reporters that the state had to manage a limited supply of vaccine doses and was attempting to prioritize vaccinations for the most vulnerable populations. According to Hutchinson, Arkansas has received roughly 50,000 doses per week with more expected.
“We’re trying to set the stage for increasing those doses and getting those out as quickly as possible,” he said.