Answering your questions about Phase 1-B of the Arkansas COVID-19 vaccine rollout

We are still in Phase 1-B of the vaccine rollout, but with so many moving parts, there are plenty of questions and concerns about the process.

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — There have been some questions about this phase of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout. We went to the Arkansas Department of Health to get some answers.

Have people shown up to a clinic and got the vaccine even though they weren’t eligible?

“Yes, we do hear that from time to time. As you know, once they start vaccinating out of the multi-dose vials, they only have six hours to use all the doses,” said Dr. Jennifer Dillaha. 

“What happens is they usually have people lined up to call in case they need more doses given and not waste any,” said Dr. Dillaha.

Arkansas is in Phase 1-B of vaccination distribution. This includes people 65 and older, educators, and food manufacturing workers, like grain and oil see producers and meat processors.

Why do we have guidelines in place for who gets the vaccine first?

“We know that older adults are much more likely to have a severe illness or increase risk for dying, and then we also know that some industries we’ve had large outbreaks, such as the poultry industry,” said Dr. Dillaha. “So, we are giving that group priority in order to prevent the spread.”

Have we had any doses expire and we weren’t able to give them out?

“Yes, we do track that. It’s a very small amount. We’ve had very little wastage here in Arkansas,” said Dr. Dillaha.

So far, Dr. Dillaha says there’s been less than 500 doses wasted or unaccounted for. This includes vials that were broken, expired doses, and vials that didn’t have the full dosage when opened. 

When will we move to the next phase of the vaccination process?

Dr. Dillaha expects Phase 1-C to begin in April. She also says it is estimated all adults in Arkansas will have access to the vaccine by May.