5 Arkansas pharmacies will receive Pfizer vaccines once approved in US

Some community pharmacies in Arkansas are getting ready to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after it could potentially be approved Thursday.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Some community pharmacies in Arkansas are getting ready to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine after it could potentially be approved Thursday.

Westside Pharmacy in Benton was one of the first in the state to get their hands on an “ultra-low temperature freezer” back in June. 

These freezers are kept at -70 degrees Celsius (-90 degrees Fahrenheit) — the temperature the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine must be stored at.

“We have the capability of storing about 3,000 vaccines,” Pharmacist Allie Staton said.

Five community pharmacies in Arkansas were chosen by the health department to receive the vaccine next week because they have these freezers to store them. 

Staton said the pharmacy will be in charge of transporting the vaccines to hospitals for healthcare workers and first responders. They are given first priority. 

“So, it’s not going to be open to the general public,” she said.

Kavanaugh Pharmacy in Little Rock was also chosen by the health department. 

Pharmacist and owner Anne Pace said they purchased the freezer back in September. It is the only community pharmacy receiving it in Pulaski County.

Pace said each of the five pharmacies in the state will receive just 975 doses next week.

“That’s certainly not going to get us very far. That’s why it’s being prioritized first for those hospitals,” Pace said.

Neither Pace nor Staton will be administering the vaccine. Pace will be distributing and splitting those doses between 12 hospitals. 

These hospitals do not have the freezers to be able to store the vaccine for a long period of time.

“Once we have the vaccine here in our ultra-cold freezer, when we take it out and put it in just a refrigerated temperature, it’s good for five days,” Pace said.

One of the benefits of these pharmacies getting the vaccine is that they can vaccinate their entire staff. Both Pace and Staton said they will be getting it next week.