Arkansas stops vaccine orders for the week as supply piles up

As of last week, the state had over 380,000 Pfizer doses, 290,000 Moderna doses, and 74,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark — For the first time since vaccines became available in Arkansas, the state is not ordering any more doses.

Top state health officials said it’s to keep the supply from piling up. This comes just one week after the state significantly cut back on its vaccine orders from the federal government.

With first dose appointments down about 75% at Kavanaugh Pharmacy and a three week supply of vaccine in the freezer, owner Anne Pace believes the state made the right call.

“Especially if there are other states in the country that are needing more vaccine, it is certainly a better idea to get it out to those people rather than keeping more in our state that we are not able to use right now,” she said.

The overwhelming drop-in appointments at Pace’s vaccine clinic was the reason she stopped requesting new doses from the health department a couple of weeks ago.

“We’re at the most we’ve probably ever had and we certainly have tried to stop getting more, so we aren’t sitting on too much,” she said.

The slow down also means the pharmacy will probably only keep the vaccine clinic open for another month. 

Pace said it’s now all about meeting people where they are.

“We’ve vaccinated all the people that were real eager to get vaccines and so our next phase is going to be going out to people, so our vaccine center may not be as much needed,” she said.

As of last week, the state had over 380,000 Pfizer doses, 290,000 Moderna doses, and 74,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.

Dr. Jennifer Dillaha with the Department of Health said because of that stockpile, there was no reason to get more.

“We felt that, as good stewards, we just didn’t need to take more vaccine on until we had used what we have,” she said. 

Out of the 1,680,145 doses administered only 5,528 have gone to waste, according to the Department of Health. 

Dillaha said now that the “early adopters” have received the shot, it’s going to be a slower process reaching those who are hesitant.

“Right now the case rates are low, so that reduces the urgency for many people to get vaccinated right now,” she said.

Dillaha said the state will decide if they want to continue this pause on a weekly basis.

If a provider wants or needs more doses this week, the health department will coordinate with them to get them what they need.