Arkansas pharmacies receiving less COVID-19 vaccinations than expected for Phase 1B

“We’re continuing to receive the same amount, just not as quickly as what we would Iike,” CEO of Arkansas Pharmacists Association said.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — Tuesday marked day two of the COVID-19 vaccination rollout for those in the Phase 1B category in Arkansas, which includes educators and anyone over the age of 70.

THV11 has received several calls about individuals not being able to make appointments, which has left many wondering if Arkansas has a vaccine shortage.

John Vinson, Arkansas Pharmacists Association CEO, said there’s not a shortage in the sense that more vaccines are coming, but there is a shortage when you look at how much longer it is going to take to vaccinate this highly populated group.

“There’s a continuous supply that is arriving, it’s just not as many doses as we expected to arrive,” he said. 

Right now, the state of Arkansas is receiving about 37,000 doses a week. 

But this time around, according to Vinson, they’re trying to vaccinate a group that is about two and half times larger than the first.

“We were hoping to get two to two-and-half times more vaccines to vaccinate those patients to have the similar speed that we did with our health workers, that didn’t happen,” he said.

Vinson said group 1B, which is made up of educators and anyone over the age of 70, is about 443,000 people in Arkansas. 

He said there are only enough vaccines for about 1 in 12 patients to be eligible per week.

This means, according to Vinson, that if the state uses 100% of the vaccine doses, it could take up to two to three months to fully move through this population.

“It makes the availability of the vaccine seem worse than it really is because there’s such high demand and there’s a much larger patient population that fits the criteria,” he said.

That demand is because of the high acceptance rate to get the vaccine.

According to Vinson, the numbers being shared with him show that over 95% of the patients who are 70 and over are saying, “yes,” they want to be vaccinated.

“We’re working to ensure that no matter where you live, what your geography is, what your situation is, there’s an equal opportunity to be vaccinated,” he said.

Vinson is confident with the surplus from the unused doses in phase 1A, that within the next eight weeks each patient should get that first shot.

“A lot of hope ahead, it’s going to take patience and working together and we’ll get through this together,” he said.

For those of you still trying to make an appointment, Vinson said to be on the lookout for larger scale vaccination clinics happening in communities over the coming weeks. 

They are also encouraging people to call your local pharmacy and make an appointment with them, but don’t put your name on several waiting lists.

Vinson said the Arkansas Pharmacists Association doesn’t want patients in the 1B group to think they won’t be vaccinated because they will, it’ll just be a slower process.

You can also find more information on where and when you can make an appointment here